• Tue, Aug 2 2011

Poll: Does This Photo Make You Uncomfortable?

Here we have a paparazzi photo of Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely and an unnamed boney friend (probably a fellow model) splitting a salad at Bar Pitti in New York’s West Village. One or both of them is washing it down with a diet Coke. If I had draw you a picture of anorexia, it would be pretty close to this. Is this a good image for people to see?

On the one hand, it shows the deprivation models put themselves through to be thin enough to model, belying models and actresses’ constant assertions that they eat healthy and normal, or even decadent, diets. For instance, Hungtington-Whitely told Maxim this past month that “eating” is her guilty pleasure. “I just don’t stop doing it,” she said. “I love eating really bad, bad, things, like roast dinners and chocolate bread and butter pudding.” And salads and diet Coke.

On the other hand, if either woman is actually suffering from an eating disorder, calling attention to it like I am doing now is only going to make matters worse. Everything I’ve read about eating disorders says that making an issue out of how little someone’s eating is not going to help them at all. So basically, I think that this image is good for the general public, but bad for the women in it. Especially the one on the right. I worry in her general direction. I’m probably only contributing to the problem, but I think these things need to be discussed.

Then again, maybe there were saving up room so each of them could have a huge slice of chocolate cheesecake for dessert, and all this worry is over nothing. That’s not a nutritionally complete meal, but everyone needs a crap meal once in a while, right? For my own peace of mind, I’m going to go ahead and assume that’s what they are doing here. But I’m probably wrong. What say you, Internet?

Sorry! This poll is now closed.

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  • Eileen

    I think Blondie’s eating something of her own, actually – that white thing above her arm looks as though it could be a plate. That doesn’t make it particularly healthy to make a meal out of what looks like nothing but a plain green salad, but a whole salad is better than half a salad.

    • Mary

      Yep. Definitely looks like there’s a plate in front of the blonde girl. Maybe they’re both having a side salad before their main meal? Who knows. No reason to judge based on one picture taken at an angle that doesn’t show the whole table or the entire meal.

  • Kay

    Personally this doesn’t bother me. Some people are skinny. Some people are fat. It’s just how the world is. Who are we to judge?

    • Isabel

      Agree. I don’t see anything wrong with this picture, and I don’t think that means there is anything wrong with me. People have different body types. That’s life.

  • Sara

    Annoyed. That people think they have a right to judge other people’s bodies and eating habits based off one photo and a whole lot of stereotypes.

  • jill

    I hear what you are all saying (comments below) and yet, if that were a friend of mine pictured with her ribs protruding, I’d be worried about her health.

    • Baker Girl

      I agree with you Jill… I dont care what anyone eats for lunch. They could be having a light lunch kinda day, I work from 4am till 12 noon so I often have a light lunch. But I am worried for that poor woman’s health, you shouldn’t be able to see a healthy persons ribcage. I am also worried that this is what the “beauty and fashion” industry considers normal.

  • Sarah

    It makes me uncomfortable, but not because it makes me worry about their health or their diet. Even if it was my place to judge them (which it’s not) I can’t draw conclusions about their lifestyles from one picture at one meal.

    It just makes me uncomfortable because I have *always* had a difficult time looking at people whose bones are visible through their skin. It sort of freaks me out. But that’s because of me, not them.

  • Benita

    We are in no position to judge them. Sometimes I split a salad as an appetizer when I go out to eat. I feel creepy looking at this photo because it’s clear that they had no idea that someone was behind them taking a picture.

  • Kristen

    I eat salad and green tea for lunch sometimes. I also eat half a pizza sometimes. But mostly, I eat regular, balanced meals. I would hate to have my picture taken at a random moment during any one meal and be judged on my eating habits based on that.

  • Softer Forest

    Fairly certain the blonde is Lily Donaldson.

  • Eileen

    Okay, I know my general MO is to disagree with Jamie about just about everything, but I do want to stick up for her here. Yeah, it’s true that one picture does not lifelong eating habits prove (and I stand by my earlier comment that it looks as though the blonde has a plate of her own), but the points she raises are good ones. I wouldn’t call it “a picture of anorexia,” though, because Rosie looks happy and social, and from her Transformers reviews I gather she’s not a very good actress. But I do think it’s damaging for people to assume that these women eat chocolate bread (whatever that is) all the time. On the flip side, it’s also damaging for people who struggle with their diets to see strict, generally unhealthy diets normalized. So there’s not an easy answer.

    But, yeah, to sum up, I don’t think that Jamie was trying to be judgmental here.

  • miinxi

    regardless of this is daily habits for them or a one off, i guarentee if you googled pro-ana websites this would be their poster shot.

  • Fiona

    What. Some people are naturally that skinny. I am. So it’s alright to insult me for looking a certain way just because I’m not fat? So fricken sick of the double standard

    • MsBorgia

      Totally agree there. I think large people certainly have it worse as far as ridicule goes, but it doesn’t make me feel good at all to have all my larger friends tell me I’m “too skinny” all the time. Also being skinny means you can’t complain about any of your physical features because, hey, you’re skinny, what more could you want from life?

  • Fabel

    Agree with a lot of the other posters here– I don’t think you should judge someone’s eating habits off of one meal. I’m naturally thin & attitudes like this make me self-conscious eating a salad at work because I wouldn’t put it past people to actually make comments to me about it. Yet if I’m scarfing some pasta then I get things like “Ooh, why can’t I eat like that & have your figure?” And meanwhile they probably comfort themselves by assuming I just throw it up later or something.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it’s not good practice to analyze the meals of others. Or try to draw any conclusions relating those meals to how their body happens to look. Would you write a concerned article about the obesity epidemic and high diabetes rates accompanies by a picture of two heavyset women with plates of cake?

    Also, on the ribcage thing– yeah, it’s disconcerting to see someone’s full set of ribs, but I think (because of the way her arm is on the table) that she’s just stretched a little on that side. Either way, you can tell neither of them are starving. Their arms and legs have shape and muscle. So, no, I’m not particularly worried.

    • Magda

      I agree with you about judging what people eat. Im on the opposite end of the spectrum though. I’m, to use an annoying euphamism, “thick” and for the most part, I have a pretty balanced diet, its just hard for me to keep weight off (THANK YOU, GENETICS!). But I feel like when I eat, lets say a salad, people are like, Oh she must be trying to diet. When in actuality, maybe its a hot day and I want a light lunch, or Maybe, (Gasp!) I actually like salad. Or the converse, if I get something hearty or order desert, people snicker to themselves, like oh, I guess that explains it.

      People make too many assumptions. Especially about a photograph taken by someone hiding in some bushes.

  • michele

    I worked in eating disorders for 5 year. This poor girl needs help. That’s what the girls do, share meals in order to not take in lots of calories. I had girls who were hooked up to IVs and wanted to know how many calories is in it. It’s ashame that society thinks thin is in. Healthy is what’s in and she is not healthy by the looks of it.

    • Caroline

      Thank you Michele for being one of the few smart people to leave a post. I completely agree with you, “healthy is what’s in and she is not healthy.” Very well said!!!

  • Audrey

    You know what makes me uncomfortable? The author of this article, Jamie Peck. First and foremost, to label this as a “photo of anorexia” is appalling. You do not know the blonde woman’s medical history, nor can you diagnose her. You do not know whether or not the salad is a first course before an entree. And to suggest that they are only “splitting” a salad just makes my blood boil. If I am ordering just a steak for dinner, I may split a salad with my dining partner so I can have some vegetables with my dinner. There is nothing wrong with that.

    It is such a shame that it has become a crime to be thin. Women who have been naturally thin their entire lives get ridiculed for something that they were born with. It’s a double standard. Why is it that you are allowed to ridicule a thin woman’s weight, but are forbidden to ridicule an obese woman’s weight?

    In addition, eating disorders can afflict women and men of any weight. While anorexia and bulimia do have certain weight requirements, EDNOS, binge eating disorder, and body dysmorphic disorder do not have a specific BMI attached to it. Hence, someone seriously and dangerously ill with said disorders most definitely can fall within the normal weight/overweight/obese category.

    Lastly, I can assume that the main reason why this photo makes you uncomfortable is the blonde woman’s ribcage. Well, let me tell you, every body is different. Some people have fuller thighs but prominent hipbones. Others have broad shoulders but a tiny waist. Others have large bottom, but very tiny arms. It’s just the way that people are built. No, I am not disregarding the fact that her ribcage is visible – i’m disregarding your belief that a visible ribcage equals anorexia. That’s the equivalent of measuring skull size to gauge intelligence.

    May I also point out that the choices in the poll are incredibly belittling to those who suffer from eating disorders? Choices such as “what are you talking about? Half a salad and a diet Coke is totally lunch” give the illusion that anorexia is a joke.

    • MM

      “Women who have been naturally thin their entire lives get ridiculed for something that they were born with”

      OK, I agree with your point about not ridiculing naturally thin women, but really? I don’t think the criticism that thin women face is anywhere near the hatred that fat people get.

      I’m average-size now, but I was quite skinny (despite eating a lot) until a couple years ago and I took it as a compliment when people told me I was too thin, asked me if I ate, etc. While there are more people overweight than underweight, thin=beautiful is so drilled into our consciousness that it’s hard to feel that bad for naturally thin girls.

    • lilemama

      Audrey i would have to agree with you from birth i was thin so thin you could see each one of my ribs i ate more then my dad and could not gain weight

  • larisa

    i think its mainly the way she is sitting. I wear a healthy size 10 but if i sit a certain way with my arn crossed over like her you can see my ribs somewhat too. I tried in a mirror, just to test my theory. please dont be so quick to judge!

    • Caroline

      Are you kidding me?? You aren’t honestly expecting us to believe that someone with a healthy weight, (which this girl obviously does not have) can sit a certain way and her spine and ribs will protrude to this extreme?? If that is what you’re saying, than you aren’t very smart and shouldn’t be so quick to project your stupidity onto the rest of us. I am a size 7, three sizes smaller than you by your own admission, and I cannot create this when I sit in front of the mirror and try really hard. This girl has a problem, whether she realizes it or not, and the world should open their eyes to the fact that anorexia is real, and is a big problem.

    • Tenny

      I agree.

      And with regard to comments about what they’re eating, who knows that the main course isn’t on the way? Or that they already ate lunch and this is just a snack. Or whatever.

      Just because you don’t see them eating a cheeseburger in this picture doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder.

  • Marion

    It’s not just her ribs, her spine, and even her cheeks are sucked in… Her butt looks boney and her ankles…

  • Jamie Peck

    I wasn’t trying to make fun of people with eating disorders here, or judge people for being naturally skinny. But the fact is, the fashion world takes people who are already naturally skinny and puts them on INSANE DIETS. I think it’s important to see what kind of deprivation models have to go through in order to fit in. They are NOT eating “chocolate bread pudding” all the time like RHW claims. Knowing this will make people feel a little bit better about themselves for not looking like models, I think.

    And sure, I have no idea what else they ate at that meal, but I thought it a provocative photo that would spark discussion of larger issues. Also, I realize that being on a strict diet is not the same thing as having an eating disorder. I hope for these ladies’ sake that they’re engaged in the former and not the latter. But I have met a bunch of former models, and they all say they were constantly restricting their calories as severely as possible. This type of life is simply not the same as being a naturally skinny civilian (which many of you seem to be).

    • MM

      Exactly. Every time I read an interview with one of these women they end up saying something “refreshing” about how much they love pizza or french fries. And it’s pretty annoying because we’ve created this modern ideal woman who is not only super tall and super thin but does it while eating burgers.

  • Abby

    Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaa there nelly, I think we all need to calm down. Jamie Peck hasn’t done anything wrong by simply entering into a bit of discourse. She’s spotted three things:

    1. Models
    2. Protruding ribcage
    3. Looks like they are sharing a salad and DC

    And used them as the basis to discuss the fact that models eat less then they say they do. She’s just going some way towards crushing the naive assumption that models are naturally all that thin. When, let’s be honest, 99% of the population can’t stuff there face with bread and butter pudding 24/7 and look like Ms. Huntington-Whitely.

    • Paige VI

      like.

  • Jack

    Of course I am concerned! Do those shoes actually match that dress? GEEZ!

  • Kristen

    What is wrong with eating salad and drinking diet coke? God knows that there are a lot of people in this world who should try doing that for a longer, healthier life.

    A long time ago no one knew what anorexia was and now everyone acts as if they are an “expert” on the subject. I think Jaime Peck comes off looking very judgmental and pathetic. Like another poster said, that was probably the first course. Stop looking at a person’s body and criticizing it!

    How much do you weight, Jaime?

  • kc

    My daughter is thin and she has scoliosis. Her spine and ribcage look just like this in certain positions, but none of her other bones stick out. I’m almost positive that this woman has scoliosis, just by the shape and twisting of her spine and ribs.

    • Audrey

      Yeah, I agree. I have a friend with scoliosis and her back looks like this. It still is slightly worrying that they are not eating that much, but maybe they are going to have cheesecake.

    • Daisy Kenyon

      yeah, her spine looks weird! (my protrudes in a weird way)

  • Jessica Nagy

    I am a massage therapist and esthetician, and therefore see far more nude bodies than the average person. I work near a prestigious zip code full of trophy wives and aspiring trophy wives who are desperate to look as skinny and blond and young as possible. Many of my clients are tremendously lean and lanky, yet healthy enough to compete in triathalons and give birth to seven-pound twins. I understand that many people are naturally built like delicate fauns. However, my experience is that as soon as you start to see a protruding ribcage from the back, it is time for a compassionate conversation about self-love and nourishment.

  • Angelicka

    I think the blonde is probably naturally tall and thin, likely a model, which gives a genetic advantage, but she’s been on a diet or something (cocaine a la Lohan?)for too long. It’s quite rare to see bones popping out like that. But if you’re in fashion, you see waify girls like this. The 90′s supermodels were phased out by Kate Moss. It kind of desensitizes you. I’m not sure how I feel. I think I want to go on a diet coke and salad now. Ugh.

  • Pat

    The blonde looks like women I’ve known who are alcoholics or meth-heads, or have terminal cancer.

  • Kathleen

    Meh. I had those ribs once, at their age, but I sure don’t have ‘em now. And I eat way less now than I did then.

  • Kathleen

    And if the authors/site were that super super concerned about those with eating disorders, this would be headed with *trigger warning* and a few lines of text would come above the pic so you’d have to actually scroll down to see it.

  • Maliciosa

    There are people who are naturally skinny. However, it is not normal for your ribs to show (OUT YOUR BACK!). Occasionaly ribs do show, but if they are showing too much on either side of your body that is a sign of malnutrition. People who are skinny have higher metabolisms and it doesn’t really matter what they eat, because they won’t gain weight. But I would at least start by eating a whole salad. Seriously? That must of been one hell of a salad, or she IS under-eating or suffers from some condition.

  • Kelly

    I am going to be bold and say that I am not ‘schocked’ by this picture. I feel like I see it so often that I have become immune to it all. That being said I do struggle with my weight and being over weight, so stuff like this makes me feel SUPER insecure about my own body ans weight becaause I am over weight and being underweight is WAY WAY more socially acceptable than being over weight…

  • Abigail

    Yes, this makes me uncomfortable… That the author felt justified on commenting on this woman’s weight and eating choices as if she was an expert, when she knows nothing about this woman. Also, I am very healthy, eat lots of junk food and healthy food, have had two children, do yoga daily, and have no eating problems, but I am naturally VERY skinny, and when I lean over the way this woman does, my ribs protude significantly. When I was a child, bitchy, over-involved, entitled people felt the need to ask me if I was anorexic or bulemic on a regular basis. It was very hurtful, especially when I was a small child (10 or so), to be looked at this way. The author is not helping this woman by writing something like this, she is only making things worse.

  • Amy

    The “unnamed friend” is fellow VS model Erin Heatherton and I’m glad that most posters have the sense to realize you can’t judge a woman’s medical history by a single snapshot.

    And whether she’s healthy or not, what business is it of ours? This isn’t an advertisement and she’s not presenting herself as a professional model or spokeswoman. She’s having a private lunch with her friend.

  • sam

    haha holy fuck

  • makeupbygurjit

    yes it does

  • Caitlin

    Maybe they just like salad and diet coke…I like salads…and im not anorexic. And i have a friend who perfers diet coke to regular coke just because of the taste…not because she’s anorexic. Um…Overanalyze much?

  • Naomi

    What disturbs me is our willingness to take photos of people in public, post them on the internet, and wax judgmental about what they’re eating and how they look while doing so. Honestly, it’s no one’s business.