‘Self’ editor gives Tea on body image, health

One would not expect the editor in chief of one of America’s most popular health and fitness magazines to approve of that occasional late night trip to Durfee’s or Yorkside. But Lucy Danziger of Self magazine looked out at a room full of female Yale students last night with more than approval.

“If you weren’t at Yale,” she said, “sure, maybe you’d have time to eat perfectly and go to the gym all the time. But you don’t. And so it’s okay to eat that midnight snack and not quite make it to the gym when you want to.”

For the kickoff of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Pierson College and Eating Concerns Hotline and Outreach, or ECHO, welcomed Danziger yesterday for a Master’s Tea and an evening discussion, both entitled “Body Image and Healthy Lifestyles.”

Danziger spoke of how Self attempts to inspire its 1.3 million readers with strong women, rather than the “morose, skinny, deprived models” flaunted in popular fashion magazines.

Danziger shared a story from a recent photo shoot for the upcoming bathing suit edition. One model was selected for her healthy body but showed up three weeks later for the shoot “skin and bones.” Danziger showed a slide of the woman whose body and bikini would most certainly, in the perspective of several students present, win her a centerfold spot in Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition.

“Look at her,” Danziger said. “She looks unhealthy and depressed. We sent her home.”

Danziger also focussed on the results of a recent Self survey. She said that those women who reported having their self-worth defined by loved ones were in general much happier than those whose worth was defined by the media. In addition, she said that those who ended a bad day by exercising, rather than eating, were also happier in general.

Even as Danziger displayed slides of fit, slim women, she said that even exercising regularly and eating perfectly do not guarantee a perfect body.

“You can run every day, but you’re still not going to look like Gwyneth Paltrow,” Danziger said. “You should go for a run not because you don’t want to get fat, but because it makes you feel good. You have to get to point where weight just doesn’t matter anymore. It’s all about health.”

She also said that she has learned that women are their own worst critics and that they “check each other out more than guys check them out.” She said the truly happy female compares herself only to herself and finds strength from within.

Yale students were drawn to the discussion last night for several reasons. Leslie Oestreicher ’02 said she has always been interested in the issues Danziger discussed.

“I was happy to have the chance to hear the media’s perspective on these issues. I think that [Danziger] did a good job defending Self, but it’s pretty hard to defend the media in general,” she said.

Laurel Grodman ’02 agreed.

“I know that the media has a big effect on people. It’s good that magazines like Self are striving to promote a better body image,” she said.

Another student, who wished to remain anonymous, came because she was concerned for a friend.

“I think that bad self images are a much bigger problem than people realize,” she said.

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