I have spent the better part of the last two years explaining just how delicate our body image is and how our cultural and religious risk factors make us, the Jewish female population, up to 2x more likely than the general population to experience an eating disorder at some point in our lives. I have talked about the importance of education, awareness, prevention, and how to speak to our daughters and loved ones so as not to promote or foster disordered eating behaviors or, G-d forbid, a full-blown diagnosed eating disorder with all the risks, struggles, and complications that accompany it.
And then, to my complete horror and dismay, this ad appeared in this week’s Mishpacha magazine!!! “Concerned she’s growing in more way [sic] than one?!” “Trim is the only studio in Israel that uses high-stream exercise machinery to accelerate weight loss.” This ad targets the girls who are in seminary this year and who next year will be “in shidduchim”.
Where to start? This ad promotes weight stigma, weight shaming, parental bullying to compel your child to lose weight, shidduch pressure, thin pressure, expectations that every girl is expected to look the same, as well as the false belief that being thin or losing weight will help you get a better shidduch, and is simply degrading and damaging.
This ad is not only tone deaf, but it is dangerous and alarming. That a publication such as Mishpacha, which has touted the belief that we have to address the epidemic of negative body image and recently published a series of articles on just this topic, would print this ad is utterly heartbreaking to say the least.
I guess it’s painfully obvious that we still have much work to do.