adios barbie

Status of Women Committee MPs Study Eating Disorders

Canada's House of Commons library roofby Jarrah Hodge

On February 10 I had a unique opportunity to speak to the House of Commons Status of Women Committee on eating disorders, media and gender. The committee, which is made up of Members of Parliament from the major parties, had recently voted the following:

“It was agreed, — That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee conduct a study of eating disorders amongst girls and women, including the nature of these diseases, what treatments are providing the most relief to patients and where they are available, how family physicians can learn more about eating disorders and how to treat them, what roadblocks exist to better serve girls and women with eating disorders, and what resources relevant stakeholders need to improve the lives of these patients.”

Basically, the committee is studying eating disorders, particularly among Canadian girls and women, and considering potential service gaps and areas for improvement.

My name was put forward by NDP Status of Women Critic Niki Ashton. Given that I’m not a doctor and there were many clinical experts and people with personal or family experience already speaking, I thought it made most sense for me to bring in feminist analysis of how media images of women factor into eating disorders.

Over the weekend leading up to the appearance via videoconference, I had a lot of help getting a firmer understanding of the situation facing people with eating disorders in Canada, and the research that has been done showing links between media and eating disorders, and the potential for media literacy education to help with prevention and treatment. Many members of the Women, Action & The Media (WAM!) Vancouver listserv shared their ideas and resources, but I owe particular thanks to Sharon from the fabulous website Adios Barbie, Kalamity from Fat Panic! Vancouver, and Angela from Project True.

With their help, I put together a 10-minute opening statement, which I will paste below the jump along with links to my references, since those don’t appear in the online transcript. On at the same time as me was Wendy Preskow, founder of the National Initiative for Eating Disorders, who told the heart-wrenching and powerful story of her daughter’s struggle with bulimia and getting the care she needs. After our statements, the committee members asked us questions. Read more

Posted on by Jarrah Hodge in Can-Con, Feminism, Politics, Pop Culture 1 Comment

Violence Sells? Time to Say “Enough” to Twisted Advertisers

This ad is from the 1950s. Not much progress in depictions of women in advertising has happened since then.

Here the 2nd post in  Joanna Chiu’s series of posts for Vancouver’s Battered Women’s Support Services on media representations of violence against women. Read the whole series as we cross-post them here, or check them out at the BWSS Ending Violence blog.

Before anyone had even heard of the show Jersey Shore, MTV leaked out a clip of Snooki (Nicole Polizzi) getting punched in a face by a man in a bar, and the clip went viral, prompting articles like “The Countdown to Snooki Getting Punched in the Face Is On!” (trigger warning for link).

The author of that article for Barstool Sports wrote:

“But as much as I enjoyed the first episode it was all overshadowed by the upcoming scenes when Snooki gets coldcocked in the face by a dude. I literally have to take sleep medicine now before I go to bed now just so I can relax and not think about how excited I am for it. Because I’m telling you right now this is destined to go down as one of the greatest moments in the history of television.”

MTV waited until the last minute to announce that it wouldn’t air the footage, and denied having leaked the clip, despite having included part of the clip in the trailer for the show.

That is just one of thousands of disturbing examples of violence against women being used for decades to promote everything from men’s suits to high fashion to vegetarianism (You can thank PETA for that one).

This 2007 ad for Dolce & Gabbana, which became known as simply “the gang rape ad,” depicts a man pinning down a woman while other men look on.

Dolce & Gabbana "Rape Ad"

This isn’t just a case of “sex sells.” These tactics are continuing to go on and on because advertisers, organizations like PETA and entertainment companies believe that images of violence against women can sell products and influence behaviors. Read more

Posted on by Joanna Chiu in Feminism, Pop Culture 1 Comment