Latest news | 18 Jun 2015

The Butterfly Foundation supports a focus on health, not weight


Tess Holliday has recently become a global phenomenon as the first size 26 (Australian) model to be signed to a mainstream modelling agency. Tess calls herself a ‘body positive activist’ however it seems not everyone sees her that way, with the 29 year old receiving some harsh feedback on social media and sparking public discussion around body image, obesity and what it means to be living a healthy lifestyle.

At a time when eating disorders are affecting close to one million Australians, The Butterfly Foundation feels there needs to be a strong focus on health, not weight and that equal consideration should be given to the social, emotional and physical aspects of health. People of all sizes will benefit from developing a healthy relationship with food, with their bodies, and with their identities. We need to recognise that we all aspire to the same goal – a healthy, disease-free population who eat well, are physically active and are satisfied with their bodies.

Our environment is currently filled with subconscious messages about idealised beauty, body shape and size. People of all ages are bombarded with images that often promote unrealistic, unobtainable and highly stylised appearance ideals which have been fabricated by stylists and digital manipulation and cannot be achieved in real life. Those who feel they don’t measure up in comparison to these cultural ideals can experience intense body dissatisfaction which is damaging to their psychological and physical wellbeing. These high levels of body dissatisfaction and weight concerns are also leading to an increasing number of men and women engaging in disordered eating behaviours.

Everyone needs to have a well-balanced nutritional diet. Excluding food groups or putting your body through any sort of nutritional deprivation can cause harm. It is important to note that diets don’t work long term, but can lead to weight gain. Dieting is one of the greatest risk factors in developing disordered eating or a clinical eating disorder. This constant dieting mindset can cause people to develop unhealthy relationships with food, eating and their body and is dangerous for one’s physical and mental wellbeing.

It is important to also note that only a clinically trained health professional is qualified to provide medical advice on your physical health. Public commentary on someone’s physical health, regardless of their size or shape is dangerous and contributes to the unhelpful cultural stereotyping.

Anyone needing support with eating disorders or body image issues is encouraged to contact the Butterfly National Eating Disorders Supportline on 1800 33 4673 (1800 ED HOPE).

Media enquiries: Taryn Harris, 02 8456 3931