Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Company magazine, you've let us down

I wouldn't say I'm a religious avid reader of glossy mags, but on occasion if certain celebrities or articles are shown to be sporting the covers I tend to treat myself to one. This month I decided to buy Company magazine as part of a value pack alongside Cosmopolitan and Elle and was thoroughly shocked, as was the rest of the nation, to be greeted with a disgusting article entitled:

'This is Skinny Club...and the first rule of skinny club is that you don't talk about Skinny Club'

Intrigued, I read on and became a mixture of disappointed, disgusted and downhearted.
The article includes a unnamed supposed 'honest' writer who describes in utmost detail how she stays thin, how being thin takes dedication, how being thin is 'worth it', agreeing with that annoyingly famous Kate Moss quote 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' and well, you get the general idea.
Part of the article asks its audience if they find the article offensive or refreshingly honest - surely they would know that an article such as this would send all kinds of audiences into extreme uproar.

I'm extremely shocked, for one thing, that the article was even published in the first place, in a magazine with of all people Demi Lovato on its front page - a young woman who spent the majority of her teens battling eating disorders. Likewise, this article appeared just a few pages after an article about feminism and documenting women who fight for feminism, only to be completely juxtaposed by an indication that women should be ashamed of what we look like if we are not pin thin. 

Whether this article had included a trigger warning or not (which it didn't, by the way), it does not excuse the content in any way, shape or form. 
I'm very much a believer that the media does not cause eating disorders, but simply fuels them, and fuels sufferers in early stages of eating disorders to worsen their illness further, taking crap articles such as these and using them as reasoning or inspiration to stay/get thinner. Same applies with articles about eating disorders, where magazines too often than not completely ignore Beats general media guidelines on publishing eating disorder content and post those shocking bone jaunting images we're all used to seeing. Similar to this, what is with magazines posting clothes encouraging you to 'embrace your curves' then as soon as you reach the back of the magazine includes cellulite removal surgeries and the latest dieting fads all in one easy to access page? Why?

My friend Eva decided to fight back (as did many others) and write a note on the magazines Company Collective page - which is a page run by the magazine staff, regarding the horrific article and their thoughts on the matter. The editor responded by saying this:

Hi collective - thanks for your comments. I think this article has been a little misunderstood. We spend a lot of time in the office discussing weight and diets etc and one of the things we all found frustrating was the fact women are often so secretive about how hard it is for many women to be slim. It was in no means meant to be a 'role model' but moreover highlight just how crazy it is that we can't be honest around food and diets. Company is not a magazine that judges on any front but we do like to give room for honest opinion. Healthy eating is always the message we would deliver. The girl in the story is not anorexic she is simply always watching what she eats. The two things are very different. And we were hoping that it was clear we wanted her story to be an example of how NOT to behave. And how daft it is to lie to friends about what you have or haven't eaten.We opened the forum on the website as there had been so much debate. It is not cynical just a response. We could have ignored it. I think it's crucial that weight and women's attitude to it is discussed but not judged either way, so if you want to follow a healthy eating regime that's fine. If you don't that's fine too. But essentially we should stop criticising each others choices.Vic - the ed

I can't be the only person who finds the editors response not only extremely rude but not just thought out in the slightest. Whether the girl in the article was supposed to be anorexic or not - it doesn't matter, the article practically glorifies an unhealthy body image and a dangerous obsession with dieting, all of which can be linked to severe eating disorders. And the girl in the article is not following a 'healthy eating regime' in the slightest, she's promoting a diet of self-deprivation and extreme exercise, which, last time I checked, was not linked to 'healthy'.

As you guys no doubt all know, I battled with an eating disorder throughout my teenage years and, despite eating 'normally' (whatever normal is), I still majorly struggle with my body image. Reading this article, although making me angry, actually gave me a sense of huge empowerment which I think I've been waiting for, for a long time. I don't want to be part of the 'skinny club', if such a thing should ever be allowed to exist. I want to buy clothes that suit my body and not bog standard clothes that 'I know' will fit me or will hide those lumps and bumps I should be flaunting. I love going to restaurants and trying all the varieties of food there is to offer, rather than depriving myself of necessity. I like exercising because I want to exercise, because I want to be healthy and get fit and HAVE FUN!' To whoever wrote this article, maybe I don't want to 'rock a crop top like Rita Ora' or 'parade around in a denim mini dress with Alexa-worthy pins'. I don't want to look like any other celebrity. I simply want to be myself and be able to rock my own brand of gorgeousness. (check out for more information on how we are trying to do this!

All I can say now is Company, I am thoroughly disappointed in you, as are many other young readers. We expected more from you. Printing this article only adds to the huge pressure and struggles young people are still battling in today's society, which surely by interviewing Demi Lovato, you should be all to aware of. We deserve a better explanation than simply 'let's stop criticising each others choices'. It was immoral and insensitive and something which surely was expected to receive criticism. 
I guess that this article justified how much I despise the magazine (especially glossy magazine) industry. It is simply a claim that clothes only look attractive on 'thin models' and that we are only interested in dieting and losing weight. Well, take this, we're in the 21st century, guys, we're not a shallow bunch and we care much more about embracing our bodies and what we have rather than envying what we don't have. Thinness happens to have been the selling point of magazines for years and is supposedly what attracts viewers to them and makes them purchase. I don't think that's the case anymore. I think we're past that. I think we're fed up of it and it needs to stop.

I want to be part of the club that is free of body banishment and welcomes self-appreciation. I really hope you all can join me!

I'd also really recommend that you watch this fantastic video by Rosianna regarding this article, who probably explains the issue in a much more coherent way than I have managed to do in this post! Rosianna makes some fantastic points and I urge you all to watch this too:

And please also check out the BodyGossip website (for which I am an ambassador) for information on our great charity and how we're currently learning to embrace ourselves and our bodies for who we are.
Leave your opinions and comments in the box below!

1 comment:

  1. I loved this post! It's so true!

    I cannot stand the two-faced-ness of magazines and media. They do anything just to sell, sell, sell. One page advocating one thing, another page refuting it. I wouldn't care if there was a whole magazine dedicated to weight loss etc but don't spring it on people who formally had no interest but then are made to feel inferior because they've stumbled across such an article.

    I too believe that even the worst things in the media cannot CAUSE eating disorders. However that doesn't mean they dont have the power to significantly lower people's self esteem and make them deeply unhappy with their body- you don't have to have an eating disorder for this.

    Once I had anorexia I sadly fed off these kind of articles, that is why they are dangerous.

    What I cant stand is the way they ALL promote in a divert or inadvertent way that weight loss means HAPPINESS. That weight loss and constant trimming and tailoring of your self image will make you somehow more successful, more popular, happier.

    Love your blog