Lynne Featherstone

MP for Hornsey and Wood Green

my blog
Lynne's Parliament and Haringey Diary, established 2003

Body Confidence 2

Oh for goodness’ sake! Christina Hendricks is a fine looking woman and it is great to see a curvy woman rather than an ultra thin one. But that was hardly the point of the article in the Sunday Times! However the follow-on newspaper articles in other publications seem to focus only on Ms Hendricks.

The last thing we need is to move from one impossible idealised and unobtainable image of the super skinny kind to another impossible and unobtainable image of the curvy kind!

Sun 25 July 2010
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Comments

  1. pamela meredith says:

    Thank you Lynne Featherstone for bringing eating dissorders to the majority.
    My granddaughter has been admitted to the Priory yet again. She is 16, tall, very
    lovely and is anorexic. She was not body conscious until at age 13 years she was stopped several times by Model Agency scouts looking for potential young models. Among the many problems she has so far suffered due to this disease, a ruptured ulcer was by far the worst. Without the rapid treatment from Kingston Hospital she would have died. I would remind anyone reading this, she is still only 16.
    Please carry on making the people responsible for encouraging this dreadful disease realise what is happening to very many young women. Go to the Priory in Roehampton and see for yourselves.

  2. Adam says:

    Such a mad mass of contradictions.

    12 February 2010 tickled pink to be most fanciable MP.
    14 February 2009 tickled pink to be second most fanciable MP.
    14 February 2007…….

    As the very proud dad of two little girls living in the real world and hopefully helping them where we can as parents through the morass of nonsense put out by the media I believe these are serious issues. But is a person who gets all tickled pink when a bunch of blokes come up with a pointless poll about what people look like the person to do it?

    if you believe it is causing such damage, and for once I agree with you, then what on earth is wrong with regulating the situation? The idea that fashion magazines and advertisers are going to self regulate on this is as daft as expecting MP’s to self-regulate their expenses.

  3. Jen says:

    Christina Hendricks has had a lot of botox, plus breast implants. Really the best role model?

    Please go and do something useful, Lynne.

  4. Christina Hendricks is a very talented actress with a curves, as an equality professional the first comment is the most important. I take your pioint about not being skinny so lets focus on the talent.

  5. Lisa Harding says:

    Thanks for doing this Lynne. It is something that i feel very strongly about. Working in the ‘creative industry’ I abhor the way we distort the human body to make the perfect image.

    I wish you well with the campaign. I blogged about it here.

    http://spiderplant88.wordpress.com/2010/07/26/melissa-kite-is-missing-the-point/

    Lisa
    LibDem Activist in Woking

  6. jennifer says:

    As a naturally skinny woman I take umbrage at your usage of the term “stick-insect”. Women come in all shapes and sizes and labeling those of us who are thin is as bad as labeling those who are bigger. What would you think if someone called a larger girl an “elephant”? Would that be offensive? I think it would. Same deal for “stick-insect”.

    Thin women are beautiful too!!

  7. harriet Harms Man says:

    I’d agree with Jennifer 100%

    Some women look great with a curvy figure whereas some are naturally skinny and look fantastic too. You shouldn’t be insulting either type.

  8. Useful article. Lucky me I came across your web page by indicent, I saved it so I can locate it next time.

  9. Wilhelmina says:

    I’m really worried. I fluctuate between size 10 and 18. What do you recommend I do? Will the coalition government be providing any help?

    Perhaps you could look into setting up a new quasi autonomous non-governmental organisation wo help be reach the right dress size; or if not, to recategorise dress sizes so that they are all size 14 lol.

  10. I disagree that body dismorphia is a cause of an eating disorder. However, it is definitely a symptom of an eating disorder. Perfectionism is a common trait among eating disorder sufferers and their feelings of inadequacy are not helped by airbrushed models, without a flaw, constantly bombarding them from every angle.

    Pamela. I am so sorry about your granddaughter. Can I suggest you look at feast-ed.org for some explanations, practical help and answers to many of your questions.

    Lynne, thank you for raising awareness of a plastic and unreal world in which we are condemning our children to live in. An eating disorder is, in my opinion, a biological brain disease which needs careful treatment and not a wilful, narcisstic stance on behalf of the sufferers. It is also the most lethal mental illness. Binge eating is just as, if not more, physically dangerous than anorexia so it is not about being underweight or overweight, it is about an mental illness that needs treatment to maintain a health weight.

    Charlotte Bevan

  11. angie says:

    Her are some constructive things Lynne could do – tell Andrew Lansley that public campaigns aimed at teaching children to eat healthy food are not a waste of money, or the ‘nanny state’. His attack on Jamie Oliver was simply about trying to discredit a known labour supporter – pathetic. Also, perhaps Lynne could ask Nick to ask Dave if his rich Tory financing friends at Tesco and Next could stop producing padded bras for 7 year olds?.

  12. angie says:

    also – for a real idea of what the Coalition is doing for women I suggest people read Jane’s entry on the ‘Lib Dems in Coalition – 10 Weeks today’ Blog.

  13. amy says:

    Oh, Jen, she has not had work done. That’s just your speculation.

    Good to see this cleared up – looks like the press has misrepresented Lynne.

    Still…. I’m not sure it’s the best focus. And I am so tired of the phrase ‘role model’ when you are just referring to looks. A girls’ role model should be, for example, her mother, or another woman whose contribution to the world she admires. It’s not the same as wanting to look like someone. How reductive.

  14. amy says:

    And “stick insects” is a horrible phrase, which completely contradicts what your message is supposed to be.

  15. Our obsession with body shape size etc is really excessive. We need to have our focus on the individuals traits and talents.

  16. Lottie says:

    Agree with the comments posted above and those on the BBC news piece http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-10760903

    Lynne you are right about airbrushing but that is because it makes women aspire to an unrealistic image. Christina on Mad Men is no more attainable for most women than the magazine ads. The image of the ‘well-endowed’ beauty is as common as the ‘stick-insect’ and as damaging. No skinny flater-chested woman feels great when confronted with mens magazines, lingerie ads and the like. Hence why breast implants for teenagers are on the rise.

    It is even worse when naturally skinny girls (stick-insects is quite a hurtful term used by school bullies and does not help women feel good about themselves) are told they are not natural or should be more ‘curvy’. It is also made very clear by the media that their figure is less attractive to the opposite sex.

    It is what’s inside that counts. All body types are normal and desirable as long as not achieved by extreme diets or surgery.

    Good luck with the anti-airbrushing campaign.

  17. Amber says:

    ” it is great to see a curvy woman rather than a stick insect”

    Language like this is just divisive and continues to make it sound like you’re setting one body type against the other. Big women are “curvy” (a euphemism) while thin ones are “stick insects” (an insult). Lynne, I really admire attempts to make women feel better about themselves, and I think you have the best of intentions with this campaign, but is there really no way to do this without demonising some of us at the expense of making the rest feel better about themselves?

    A “Stick Insect”

  18. Anna says:

    I totally agree with the anger at the use of the term “stick insect”. It’s an obviously derogatory comment that’s completely against the message of body confidence that you’re apparently trying to promote…

  19. Joe Jordan says:

    Wow, some scary comments.

    Just to say this is a good clarification post – the media have been talking a lot of nonsense that was nothing to do with the excellent Real Women campaign, and this clears it up (not that any of them will bother to read it.)

    Just to say, as ever, this campaign has my support, lets take the body-fiction out of advertising (for men too, BTW :)…)

  20. Celia says:

    I did suspect that a lot of the media coverage had been sensationalised or blown out of proportion. After all, I’m sure no real person would be suggesting that literally every woman should be a size fourteen or look like Christina Hendricks. Ms. Hendricks herself is probably smaller than a UK size fourteen – but I think the ability to guess the dress size of someone is not an ability that many have, and I don’t know if that’s cultural or not.

    Of course, referring to thin women as “stick insects” is unfortunate, but it does show how easy this kind of body hatred and ill-feeling is, that it can crop up anywhere without a thought. Instead of looking critically at the society that prizes looks in women above all else, women who don’t make the grade are encouraged to turn against other women. Divide and conquer.

  21. Agreed – language improved

  22. Adam says:

    Will you be amending all of the other mess ups by erasing the offensive wording and pretending they never happened as you have just done with the wording of your original blog at the top of this stream?

    You could call it – policies improved.

  23. Mr Bubblebath says:

    One important way to help young people become more body confident must surely be to encourage sport and healthy exercise. So I don’t see why Lynne Featherstone supports the abolition of free swimming for under-16s and over- 60s.
    Research shows that when free swimming was introduced, there was a rise of almost 50 per cent of under-16s going swimming – 5.52 million swims.
    About one in five of the 60-and-over age group and more than a quarter of 16-and-unders started to go swimming when charges were dropped, and, conversely, may well no longer go swimming as a result of charges being reintroduced.
    Those who will no longer go swimming are bound to be the worst-off financially – those for whom it would bring the most benefit in terms of health and, yes, body confidence.

  24. Mr Mark says:

    I just don’t get the idea of holding up Christina Hendricks or anyone else as a kind of physical role-model. Surely the whole point is to look like yourself, not model yourself on someone else?

  25. kemlyn says:

    Lynne, looks like you’ve just gone off message again! Anne Milton, your Health Minister, has just told us to stop calling dangerously overweight people “obese” and start calling them “Big Fat Blubbery Fatty Fat Fats” instead. She thinks it is better not to beat about the bush. I assume “strawberry blonde” is out the window too, and “ha ha look at the ginger minger!” is the way to go now.

    So I really think you should have stuck with “stick insects” to describe slim people if you want to be part of Dave’s Gang. Personal abuse is in, PC is out in the ConDem Coalition!

  26. Adam says:

    Great so now it’s wrong to be PC, there will be no PCS and no PC’s.

  27. 'Stick Insect' says:

    @kemlyn

    Whilst Anne Milton wants the medical profession to refer to obesity as fat, she neglects to take into account just how many medical text books will need to be reprinted…. it’s a medical condition universally understood by the medical profession.

    I know she was a nurse but that still doesn’t quite give her power over a profession in which she’s not even qualified. What next, international accounting standards perhaps??????

    I don’t personally don’t know what it’s like to be obese and I don’t really understand it because that’s something for those in post-grad medical/surgical/psych studies. However, I know it’s as serious an eating disorder in the long term as anything else and try to have some sympathy.

    This must be the most stupid government we’ve ever had….. it certainly doesn’t say much for public school.

  28. Thank goodness that Harriet and Jennifer (above) have made the point that criticism of ANY particular body shape is undesirable. Like your own “super-skinny” comment, there is an increasing amount of hypocrisy around since the “real” women & body confidence campaigns, and increasingly negative language is being used – casually and thoughtlessly – about those of us who are thin. “Stick-thin” and “Skeletal” are two examples, not to mention the implication that those of us who are thinner than a size 12+ are somehow “unreal.”

    This seems to be in almost direct contradiction of Anne Milton MP’s efforts to render the word “fat” acceptable again, due to the increasing degree of concern there is about the effects of obesity on society. I also feel that you could help address THAT issue by campaigning to stop the fashion retailers vanity-sizing clothes, which causes women to end up confused about what size they are. As an example, I am a non-eating disordered and healthy size 0, according to current sizing. However, my vintage clothes from the 70s and 80s all bear size 10 labels.

    As Equalities Minister, I’d very much like to see you attempt to render it equally unacceptable to discriminate or abuse ALL groups in society, and not just those who lobby the hardest. I applaud your campaign against airbrushing, however – though suspect that the increase in plastic surgery is also going to prove a challenge in restoring people’s body confidence.

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