Caryn Franklin MBE shares her story as part of Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week
Taking place from Monday 22 to Friday 26 February across Leeds and York city centres, the week of events was organised by Leeds Beckett Senior Lecturers in Psychology, Glen Jankowski, Dr Nova Deighton-Smith and Dr Helen Fawkner, and Senior Lecturer in Sport, Dr Megan Hurst, with Dr Beth Bell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at York St John University.
Glen Jankowski commented: “Eating disorders charity BEAT estimates that at least 725,000 men and women in the UK are affected by an eating disorder in some way. Feeling unhappy with any aspect of one’s appearance, body dissatisfaction, affects even more people. This is a major problem. Body dissatisfaction and eating disorders affect our health, our work, our relationships with each other and more.
“Narrow and ubiquitous media appearance ideals mean the problems of body dissatisfaction and eating disorders are only increasing. The aim of our Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 was to raise awareness of body image and disordered eating issues and begin to challenge the toxic cultural conditions that contribute to these problems.”
The first event of the week took place at the Duke of York pub in Kings Square, York. ‘Body image: Psychology in the Pub’ was organised by the British Psychological Society (BPS) North East of England branch. Drawing on examples from popular culture, from the airbrushing of adverts to #fitspiration on social media, Dr Megan Hurst and Glen Jankowski took the audience of a tour of the wealth of psychological research into the media and its influence on our feelings about our bodies, our relationships with other people and our wellbeing. Glen’s research focuses on men’s experiences of culture and their bodies whilst Megan’s focuses on how women’s and girls’ experiences of objectification influence their motivation for exercise and their feelings about their bodies.
The politics of black looks was the subject of Tuesday’s lecture and workshop at the University’s city centre Rose Bowl building. This event started with a lecture on the regulation of the black body, including the hierarchy of skin shades and the politics of black women’s hair by Marvina Newton. Marvina is a Leeds-based activist and founder of Angels of Youths, a community helping young people to build their dream careers and attain their desired lifestyles. Following the lecture, attendees got hands-on with a ‘craftivism’ workshop, subverting racialised appearances in the media (for example skin bleaching adverts) and styling Barbie dolls and other toys to highlight these issues.
On Wednesday 24 February, fashion commentator and former presenter of the BBC’s Clothes Show, Caryn Franklin MBE, presented her public lecture, entitled ‘Fashion, Diversity and Individuality: Implications for body image and eating disorders’, at Leeds Beckett’s city centre Calverley building. This talk was supported by the BPS North East of England branch and saw Caryn talk about her 34 years in the fashion industry as well as the work she has done over the last six years in promoting diversity and supporting young creatives in recognising their empowerment early in their careers.
An ‘Occupy your body’ activist workshop run by AnyBody UK, a website giving women a voice to challenge the limited physical representation of females in contemporary society, took place on the Thursday. This was followed by a showing of the film The Illusionists at the city campus Students’ Union, co-organised by Student Minds and Leeds Beckett Students’ Union. The Illusionists examines how global advertising firms, mass media and the beauty industry are changing the way people around the world define beauty and see themselves.
The week of events closed with the ‘My Body, My Mind: Eating Disorders in Racialised communities’ seminar in the Rose Bowl on Friday 26 February, hosted by Marvina Newton. The seminar featured speakers presenting their research and experiences on eating disorder and body image issues as they overlap with racism, homophobia and sexism. It also aimed to provide a space to exchange thoughts, be entertained, and formulate ideas for change.