Eating Disorder awareness week may have been from Feb 22-28th this year, but there’s no reason why the education and awareness shouldn’t continue every day of the year.
Across America is it estimated 20 million women suffer from an eating disorder, and 10 million men. What has increasingly influenced and exacerbated eating disorders amongst young men and women is media pressure. We see unrealistic images of bodies in the pages of magazine that are heavily airbrushed and photoshopped, yet we are somehow expected to live up to that standard.
An eating disorder awareness organization called Bulimia.com which is a resource platform dedicated to sharing information about treatment and various eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia and others to men and women decided they wanted to have a go at reversing the dangerous trends that continually dominate the media, advertising and pop culture landscape.
They were inspired by Buzzfeed’s reimagining of the Disney Princess crew, but with realistic waistlines and thought it was a great way to start conversations about the images we see in the media. The Buzzfeed images went viral, and we are sure this project will too.
Bulimia.com decided to re-draw a whole slew of comic book characters both men and women, with more realistic bodies.
They shared their photos in a post on their website called ‘Reverse Photoshopping Comic Covers: Visualizing Superheroes With Average American Body Shapes‘.
The average size of an American woman is size 14, and for men it is 34. So when we see images of superheroes as super skinny or super buff, it sends the subconscious message that average people cannot be super human in any way. And that sucks!
“When it comes to accurate depictions of the human body, comic book heroes are hardly realistic. Whether they’re sprouting blades from their hands or surviving decades in a deep freeze, these characters regularly push the limits of what’s considered possible. But they also depart from realistic human anatomy in a more mundane sense: Almost none of them reflect the typical physique of most Americans,” writes Bulimia.com about their project.
“Today, 33.7% of men and 36.5% of women in the U.S. are considered obese, and more than two-thirds are overweight. Weight gain has put millions of people at risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other preventable conditions. Meanwhile, comic books depict vastly different figures: men with massive biceps and shoulders and women with toned abs and tiny waists.”
Just to clarify, the website didn’t intend this series of images to be a commentary on whether comic books perpetuate unhealthy body image standards, although we think they kinda do.
“Our hope here is to show the extent to which superheroes’ body types (as is the case with their super-human abilities) are fictional. Our hope is that when viewers see these superheroes visualized in such a manner that they can identify with, they may feel better about themselves and realize the futility of any comparison between themselves and the fictional universes of Marvel and DC Comics,” said a representative from Bulimia.com to The Huffington Post.
They may not intending to have a dig at the comic book world, but we certainly hope these images will not just give average Americans hope that their own bodies are beautiful, but also possibly influence the comic industry that we are tired of seeing the same old, same old.
And if you look at the realistic versions on the right of each image, there are some stark differences, but it’s also not such a far-fetched imaged we couldn’t ever imagine looking at.
“When seen through a more realistic lens, the stick-thin thighs and visible ribcages vanish from the women, while the men’s exaggerated V-shaped upper bodies are cut down to a more reasonable size. The extreme body shapes of the originals come from the fictional universes in which these characters reside, and as widespread as these images may be in our culture, this certainly isn’t something that any real person could hope to achieve safely,” says the website.
“What begins as negative body image can quickly become much more devastating. Specialized eating disorder treatment can help those experiencing the debilitating effects of a distorted body image, as well as a preoccupation with food, exercise, and/or weight.”
There are plenty of resources to point you in the right direction if you are struggling with an eating disorder or negative body image as a direct result of media and pop culture pressure.
We love that an eating disorder organization is infiltrating mainstream consciences with this thought-provoking series.
“If these characters had a figure more like that of the average person, perhaps more people could look up to their favorite superhero without feeling the need to emulate an impossible physique. Ultimately, what’s truly heroic is respecting yourself, your body, and your health.”
Check out more of the images below: