A study by the European Eating Disorders Review found that 84% women who looked at pro-anorexia or so called ‘thinspiration’ websites cut their calorie intake by 2000 calories a week in the weeks following their visit – over half of them were unconscious that they were even doing so. This shows the extent to which people can be affected by what they see.
The emergence of ‘Thinspiration’ or ‘thinspo’ websites and pages on social networking sites make it really easy to validate negative views about size and weight. The sites aren’t just accessed by people already suffering from an eating disorder but are used by many people looking for inspiration for a summer body - it’s easy for this to lead to an unhealthy relationship with your body.
We are constantly being bombarded with the message that we should look a certain way. Here at Doctor Wellgood we believe the emphasis should be on a healthy body rather than conforming to any certain idea.
Brick makes the claim that her husband would leave her if she were to put on weight. The fact that she and her husband measure her worth by how much she weighs is sad but their own business. Many may think it shows real insecurities and the extreme extent to which their private relationship has been influenced by pressures outside of their marriage.
Her husband isn’t the first man to think like this though, and sadly won’t be the last. The view that women should look a ‘certain way’ is real problem in our culture. She says that she does not have a problem with her husband’s claim he’ll leave her if she puts on weight.
Nowhere in the article does she comment on her husband’s size - which rather highlights an inequality in what’s expected of men and women. She is fine with her husband saying she must stay thin but his size, and whether he is ‘too fat’ or ‘too thin’, does not even come into the discussion.
Idealising thinness and equating it to being attractive makes it easy for people to become concerned with their weight and size. It can lead to low body confidence and, in the worst cases, eating disorders.
The aspiration to look a certain way puts immense pressure on people to look different from the way that they are naturally. Unattainable ideals are all around us but it’s really easy to be fooled by them. The emphasis should really be on looking and being healthy rather than trying to be a certain weight.
Of course, there is an obesity problem in this country. However, condoning excessive dieting and saying that you enjoy the hunger pangs, is the other extreme. Even if Brick is exaggerating it does reflect the real perceptions that we have of beauty. The media creates an image of the ‘right’ way to look which puts a great deal of pressure on people that don’t fit the mould.
Brick’s article makes dangerous connections between being thin, being attractive and being successful. Claiming that while living in LA and eating very little, even renting a place without a kitchen to avoid temptation, she always had a boyfriend and a job.
It portrays a glamorous life, where everyone is on what amounts to a starvation diet with their aim to ‘be thin’. Talking proudly about being thin and being hungry is similar to the many ‘thinspiration’ websites where bloggers post pro-anorexia literature and photos. There are forums where members can discuss the best weight loss regimes and even how to hide it from parents and doctors.
Brick is one step away from glorifying eating disorders by advocating a diet of 1000 calories a day which she thinks should be followed. The average woman should have a 2000 calorie daily intake and the average man should have 2500 calories per day. Brick’s article could be damaging to people who don’t already have an eating disorder and probably even more harmful to those who do.
Sadly, the view that Samantha Brick possesses isn’t unusual and shows how easily people can become obsessed with their appearance. In a culture where the media bombards us with the pictures of ‘successful’ men and women who are thin it can be hard to separate the two. She can’t be blamed for causing people to think like this she shouldn’t have spoken in favour of what are clinically unhealthy ideals on such a public forum. Her article is the perfect example of the media obsession with weight. The glamorisation of thinness only works to perpetuate the idea that it is ‘normal’ and expected. Who knows? It may never change but the publication of articles that state all women should be thin definitely won’t help.
What do you think about Samantha Brick’s article? And do you think that social media sites should do more to clamp down on ‘thinspo’ pages? We’d love to know you thoughts – email us at
British journalist Samantha Brick’s article, ‘Why women hate me for being beautiful’ went viral last year after it was posted on the Daily Mail website. Referring to herself as a ‘beautiful woman’, she said that she finds herself victimised by other women because of her looks.
Her views have been causing outrage again more recently, with her claims that she has been on a diet everyday for 30 years. She also suggests that other women who want to be beautiful should also diet every day.
Her articles are probably intended to be provocative, and that they are. Some would say that her first piece about being beautiful only painted her own character in an undesirable light. But her most recent piece could be damaging. The article makes the bold claim that all ‘self-respecting women’ should want to be thin, and therefore spend their life on a diet.
Her first article caused annoyance and was criticised for being out of touch with reality. This more recent work has been criticised much more strongly for encouraging an irresponsible viewpoint. Reinforcing such destructive views could be damaging to vulnerable readers.
Over a million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder. The numbers are higher amongst the young women to whom Brick’s article is heavily directed. She says that during college she only ate a packet of mints for breakfast and another for lunch. She stopped not because of the serious physical and mental health effects, but because her dentist said it was damaging her teeth!
Although not actively advocating the ‘polo diet’, publishing it with details of how easy it was to lose weight could encourage others to try it.
We’re all for a bit of free speech, and even though she’s voicing an opinion which many already hold, it’s an opinion that works to reinforce unattainable ideals on women. Especially ideals that are wholly focused on appearance and promote the view that having a certain look is akin to being successful.
Being underweight can be really bad for your body, you’ll lack energy and feel tired. If you’re underweight you probably aren’t getting enough calcium or vitamin D which is why osteoporosis is a common side effect. Your bone density is lowered meaning you have fragile bone more prone to breaking. Anaemia is a common condition in people who are underweight – your body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen to your tissues. It results in fatigue, dizziness and pale skin. Being underweight increases your chances of becoming sick as your immune system is compromised.