The women's magazine marie claire published an article:
- Six popular bloggers advocate healthier living, but are they putting readers — and themselves — in danger?
This article has blown up on Twitter, as the healthy blogging community has lashed out, saying that the article has taken the bloggers out of context and twisted their words around.
"Then there's the effect on readers. "The sheer number of food images and intense exercise descriptions can be particularly triggering to eating-disorder-prone followers," says Dr. Robyn Silverman, a developmental psychologist in Mount Freedom, New Jersey, whose book, Good Girls Don't Get Fat (published in October), addresses influences on female body image. Silverman worries readers could log on and "push their bodies to the extreme to match the workouts or eating habits of their idols, when it may be inappropriate."
Now, I have to admit, I am not a faithful reader of any of the six blogs they mention in the article, however, I do follow some of the bloggers on Twitter, and will read bits and pieces of what they post.
I find it difficult to read most typical health and fitness blogs, especially those high in "what I ate today" and "I ran ten miles today" posts because I cannot relate. Simple as that.
If a mom of four, who was formerly 300+ lbs, with dietary restrictions, health concerns, and with a neurological condition started blogging about her fitness regimen, I might take notice. But, for now, typical "healthy" blogs make me tired.
I live in a different world at the moment.
This was clear to me, that I did not fit in the healthy-blog community, when I attended a health blogging conference last year and felt entirely out of place. I went, knowing this, but wanted to do it anyway. My friend and I called ourselves fatbloggers, because... we were surrounded by young, very thin women. Our not-so-taut former 320 bodies were a little different than 95% of the attendees at the conference.
Watching women gather around bowls of oatmeal and brown sugar like it was an ice cream sundae? Sort of turned me inside out. Partly because I couldn't eat any of what was offered for the breakfast meal, and partly because they were all over it like it was the most amazing food that EVER was, and photos were blogged and uploaded all over the conference room.
I suppose, as a former super morbidly obese woman, my sense of "healthy" or "fit" is much more ... loose?
I can see how the magazine could identify some eating disordered behaviors from the "healthy" blogs. It's partially the same reason I can't read them: they are often very regimented, bound by eating rules, calorie counts, numbers, and all sorts of things that I cannot possibly concern myself with.
And, I eat too much butter, and have an unhealthy love of all things naughty, even though I don't eat them.
I see the food photography, the suggestions, rules, ideas, etc. from typical diet and health blogs and think: "Wait, what if someone tried to emulate this to get the same results? What if my daughter tried to copy this blogger?" She might, and honestly, there is a lot of bad information out there.
And then I remember, that in our WLS community, it's much much worse.
Consider what we post.
Consider our next-to-nothing calorie counts in the first few weeks and months of a weight loss surgical journey. Think about the dieters who stumble on a early post op blog -- just by accident -- and stay.
Think about how many non-ops read WLS blogs for "thinspiration." I have non-ops that read THIS blog, not for "diet tips," because, um... I don't really share things like that, but more as a "How Not To Be 320 lbs," or "How To Avoid Having WLS By Watching Other People Live With It."
But, there are readers that come through, looking SPECIFICALLY FOR "how to eat like a person that has had a gastric bypass," "how to chew and spit," + "how to binge and purge," etc. I get a huge influx of eating disorder-like searches to my blog.
Considering that many WLS patients deal with eating disordered behavior before surgery, it's obvious that many have issues after surgery with different eating disorder behaviors cropping up. Compulsive eating, binge eating, and bulimic behaviors are very common in WLS pre and post ops.
What if a young girl is looking for weight loss advice and stumbles on an early WLS patients blog, or a WLS post op with serious disordered eating, and they are posting about it?
"OMG, I ate 500 calories today! I'm such a pig!" (I've seen it posted. I could have written it myself about five years ago.)
Very often someone will ask, "What do you eat to maintain your weight?" in our WLS community, and if that person happens to be eating 500 calories?
Or, "I'm drinking nothing but protein shakes and walking ten miles a day!"
OTHERS WILL and DO FOLLOW.
If you look "thin," or start posting before and afters, or your weight from the scale, people will ask. "You must be doing it right." No. Not always. There are long term post-ops who will openly state that they eat veryfewcalories a day, and I cringe knowing that some will absolutely try to follow.
On the flip-side, as soon as you don't "look thin," the comments stop. This is a WEIRD place to be in, just so you know. If you haven't been public with a weight loss, it's bizarre. It's got to screw with your head. Me? Meh. I've been up and down, but I am floating in the same range, I think I am just destined to be average sized, so long as I do not exercise hard. ;) But, I wonder about really fit health bloggers, and their image... with blogging. I do. I'm just not there. I have no fit...ness.
I bet you that if I, as "MM" announced a fresh weight loss, I would have several people in my email begging for details of my diet plan. Regardless of what I was doing to GET to goal. If I told you that I was eating 500 calories a day? That's a scary thought, a very scary thought. I realize how malleable the "internet" is, on the heels of being blamed for people making bad choices based on things I post. If I told you I was on a "liquid diet," you might do it! And, I will see the searches: "what kind of protein shake is melting mama taking to loose her weights?"
When we blog, we usually blog for "ourselves," right? For our journey? Right? Sure, but there comes a point when we have an audience! To be honest, there are a lot of things I stop myself from posting here on my personal blog, because I remember: there IS actually someone reading this, besides myself. (Although I do feel like I am talking to a black hole most of the time, which is why most of the Should I Post This stuff gets through.) There are plenty of things I feel like I should go back and delete!
This is what happens with blogs. While I am all for honesty and the ability to post MY complete truth, I am aware that I am a little bit responsible for what goes out there. I also feel that adults can make adult choices, and shouldn't make decisions based on what bloggers post, but I know they do.
If it happens in our quite small community -- it's GOT happen in the typical healthy-blogging community on a MUCH larger scale. People want someone to emulate -- and if you look "good" -- someone is going to try to look like you by doing what you do.
I don't think the article was very fair... however... I believe it's smack dab in the middle of a magazine filled with anorexic models, which is ironic.
Because - marie claire - you confuse me: