NEDA Walk Sunday April 2, 2017 at 10 a.m., Pem Arch

Join us for the 2017 NEDA walk on April 2, 2017, Kick off at Pem Arch, Time : TBA

All welcome to join the Body Image Council for our 8th Annual NEDA Walk!  To register and raise $$ for the National Eating Disorders Association in memory of Bryn Mawr and Haverford College’s Dietitian Mimi Murray, go to, click on “programs and events”, then click on “NEDA Walk.”

Inspiring Words from activist and former BIC speaker Kathleen MacDonald

This was posted on Kathleen’s Facebook page (!/notes/kathleen-macdonald/do-i-look-fat-in-this/10150111722509496)

Do I Look Fat in This?

by Kathleen MacDonald on Monday, February 28, 2011 at 10:51pm

Tonight at James Madison University brave young women got up and shared powerful stories of how they were impacted by eating and body image issues/disorders. They inspired me to take time and write this…

We have these labels in our society called: thin, fat, obese, eating disordered, bulimic, anorexic, skinny, chubby, etc…

What the hell with these labels?

Do we place these labels on babies who are still in the womb? WHEN after simply hoping for 10 fingers and 10 toes do we start teaching babies that fat is bad and thin is pretty?

Tonight I let my heart weep in a way that I have not done since last April when I received word (via a staffer on Capitol Hill, nonetheless) that my dear friend Nicole had died from her eating disorder…and I couldn’t help but wonder: when did she start “feeling fat”

Those of you with young daughters and sons, and wives and aunts and mothers and brothers and teammates, etc., who “feel fat” —TAKE NOTE: ‘feeling fat’ is not healthy NOR is it normal. It has become ‘acceptable’ –and that is something we NEED to change.

I am so sick and tired of losing people to these enigmatic things we label as ‘eating disorders’. The seemingly ‘innocuous’ comments you make to your self about your body and to your self about food and about other peoples’ bodies and other peoples’ food…those comments ARE being heard and TAKEN PERSONALLY by the best and the brightest. I listened to young woman after young woman speak tonight about how the comments they heard impacted their feelings about their body, thus in turn their feelings about themselves and what they do/do not eat.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I suffered from these ‘comments’ for 16 years of my life. My friends have died from these comments, and the daughters of parents have died from ‘feeling fat’ and the results of ‘dieting’ to stop feeling ‘fat’… WE MUST CHANGE THIS CULTURE THAT SEEMS TO BELIEVE THAT THIN IS BEAUTIFUL.


THIN DESTROYED MY FAMILY, MY RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS, MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, AND THIN WAS THE FOCUS OF MY SELF-WORTH FOR YEARS. I NEVER EVER could be doing the work I do today if I was still giving a sh_t about whether or not I was ‘thin’. THIN is not a shape or size –it is a term constructed by society. I AM my natural and healthy genetic weight for this current day. THAT IS BEAUTIFUL and that is ENOUGH. That is what I pray we begin to teach our young children. “looks” by society’s definition  DO NOT MATTER. what matters is that we are each drawn in loving-kindness by something greater than us  —someone who makes us each uniquely beautiful.

Please learn from all those who have died in the pursuit of being ‘just a few pounds thinner’. IT IS NOT WORTH IT. EVER.

Support Group Starts This Thursday February 10, 2011

Are you struggling with an eating disorder, eating problems, or bad feelings about your body? Join the Body Image and Eating Issues Support Group, starting Thursday 2/10. The group will meet weekly on Thursdays from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the Quita Woodward Room in Thomas Building. The group aims to explore the biology, language, thoughts and self-talk associated with food and eating, and to explore the facts and fallacies of weight and body image, with the purpose of increasing awareness and developing a healthier view of the self. The facilitator will combine her knowledge of eating disorders and therapy with a background in neurobiology and biochemistry to both inform and challenge group attitudes about eating and weight.

The group is sponsored by the Body Image Council and facilitated by Sarah Gibbs, MS, PhD.  Dr. Gibbs is a therapist in private practice who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders. A former group and primary therapist at The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia, she also teaches as an adjunct professor of Biology and Psychology at Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges.

Interested Bryn Mawr and Haverford students may come to the first meeting on Thursday or contact Dr. Gibbs ( with questions.

Jenni Schaefer presentation, Wednesday 11/10 at 7 p.m., Thomas Great Hall

The Body Image Council sponsors Jenni Schaefer, author of “Life Without ED” and “Goodbye ED, Hello Me”, at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, 11/10 in TGH. Jenni is a singer/songwriter and a compelling speaker. She is fully recovered from an eating disorder and shares in her presentation and in her books how this is possible for others, too. This presentation will be extremely helpful to anyone struggling with an eating disorder or trying to support others who struggle with one. Please join us! The presentation is free and no registration is necessary.

Fox and Burger King just don’t get it

Over the weekend Fox and Burger King ran a cartoon ad during their NFL games mocking Jessica Simpson and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (whom she dated last year).  The spot included comments like “Unlike Tony, at least Jessica comes up big when it counts!”and “Say Tony, is Jessica around? We could use a defensive tackle!”

Fox has apologized ( ), but this is so over the top I can hardly believe it.  Except that it’s Fox.

If this bothers you, you can contact News Corporation which owns Fox here:

Primary Press Contact Secondary Contact
Brian Lewis, Executive Vice President
Corporate Communications
Phone: 212-301-3331
Fax: 212-819-0816
Irena Briganti, Senior Vice President
Media Relations
Phone: 212-301-3608
Fax: 212-819-0816

The Problem with Press-Releases (and over-generalizations)

Researchers at USC released a new report with findings that suggest that “Black Girls are 50% more likely to be bulimic than White Girls“.

This is the headline I found when doing my usual search for news related to eating disorders and body image issues. So, I followed the link because the headline struck me as unusual because in much of the research I have done, I don’t find many resources and studies being done on the overlap of race and body image and eating issues.

The first thing that struck me as “off” was the use of the word “girls”. I was going to ignore this, but I still find it problematic. Girl is often used to demean women, however it can also suggest are certain age group of women (i.e. 18 and under).  I would like to point out that there is another term available to use, that being young women. I would find it most helpful in understanding their findings if they numerically reported the ages of their surveyed population.

The study then goes on to compare those statistics with the statement “more than 9 million females suffer from Bulimia in this country”. So how does that compare to the findings of this new study, since that one focuses on “girls”. What percentage of the 9 million females are under the category of “girls”. Semantics are very important, especially when making bold statements that could potential overturn stereotypes and assumptions around eating disorders (the assumption being that eating disorders mainly affect white, upper class women).  Say what you mean (and I can say this because I get my own science writing criticized when I don’t properly and concisely detail what I’m studying). But that is only the beginning.

The results reveal that:

  • Black girls were 50 percent more likely than white girls to exhibit bulimic behavior, including both binging and purging. About 2.6 percent of black girls were clinically bulimic, compared to 1.7 percent of white girls. Overall, approximately 2.2 percent of the girls surveyed were clinically bulimic, close to the national average.
  • Black girls scored an average of 17 percentage points higher than their white counterparts on the widely used medical index gauging of the severity of the bulimia, the researchers found.
  • Girls from families in the lowest income bracket were significantly more likely to experience bulimia than their wealthier peers.
  • Bulimia affected 1.5 percent of girls in households where at least one parent had a college degree.
  • For girls whose parents had a high school education or less, the rate of bulimia was more than double — 3.3 percent were bulimic.

Wait a second –  I thought the survey was focusing on the racial statistics of bulimic behaviors, not class? I dont like the assertion that the rest of the statistics are making – that not only are black [young women] more likely to be bulimic, but also be from lower class and less educated backgrounds.

Yes, this IS important research that needs to be carried out – the intersections between gender, race and class, and how they influence disordered eating. But should it be carried out by economists when the headline is suggesting they are looking at race?

Whether or not they meant their findings to be interpreted this way, I still feel like this is sloppy presentation of the facts, and not enough thoughtful/careful separation between the demographics analyzed (those being race and class). Instead, it plays into the assumption that blacks (especially, black women) are bulimic and from low-income, uneducated backgrounds.Yes, I appreciate the part where they talk about how eating disorder surveys have been biased in the past because of sampling techniques (sampling those who have been treated, therefore the strong correlations between class and eating disorders, since those findings were based on individuals who can afford treatment) but they are just overall conflating black with poor, and it really bothers me. It should bother you too!

I recognize the sad fact, unfortunately due to racial oppression  nonwhite populations tend to be overrepresented in lower classes. However, racial and class demographics due not determine one another. For instance, if  the authors of the study did wanted to examine eating disorders among black women, then they ought to have included in their study black women of various economic and educational experiences. On the other hand, if they wanted to examine the impact of being in a lower class can have on the prevalence of eating disorders, they ought not to have implied that all people in that class are black.

Most importantly, have we stopped to think about why black young women would feel pressured to engage in disordered eating? Could it perhaps be the media’s dominance and reinforcement of ideals of femininity and beauty, those ideals that are established and maintained by racist patriarchy?

Bottom line: yay for research that is trying to be more mindful of how body image can transcend racial and economic boundaries. A big BOO for research that is not precise enough in stating its findings, and seems to reinforce assumptions surrouding class and race.