August 2011 update: following an investigation by ASA, Zazzle have now ‘restricted the design’ so it doesn’t appear on t-shirts for kids anymore. This presumably means they are still open to designs involving the slogan on adult t-shirts; which is still very, very problematic.
In 2009, Kate Moss spoke the words that sparked the attention of many: ”Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” Eating disorder experts were up in arms over this suggested mantra, media critics went down heavy on the celebrity/fashion industry’s diet culture whilst “pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) and other such parties used it as something to live by (and still do – search the words on twitter and find plenty of under-eating, over-exercising skinny-chasers).
Today, the words have made their way onto a new stage: that of the world of children. http://www.zazzle.co.uk is selling t-shirts encrypted with the slogan, made and marketed US-based firm Teen Modelling.
Babygrows with another disgusting slogan, ”Don’t feed the model”, are also available.
Due to the secretive and hidden nature of eating disorders, statistics can be but conservative estimates; however, there are thought to be at least 1.1 million people in the UK who are affected by an eating disorder. Roughly 10% of these are men, and this statistic is growing increasingly higher. The Mental Health Foundation suggests that 1 in every 100 women struggles with an eating disorder. Whilst young people in the age-group 14-25 are most at risk of developing an eating-related illness, there is no ‘age limit’ on it and those suffering from these illnesses are getting younger.
This is NOT a healthy-eating slogan. Children and adults should indeed be taught to care for their bodies and make good food choices. But the message of this slogan is something different. It is not referring to making sure children get their 5-a-day or choose brown over white bread, it is not about health – it was spoken by a member of the size-zero world, and no child should feel the pressure to sacrifice their health for its ideal.
Similarly, people who are naturally slim should not feel attacked by this. The ‘skinny’ here is in reference to something that is obtained through not eating -”nothing tastes…”, not a healthy natural body-type.
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” = “Skinny is what to aim for, and your health is the price to pay for it”.
This message is harmful to people of all ages. However, a spokesman for BEAT (Beating Eating Disorders) commented that this message is “clearly a very dangerous message and one that should not be reaching girls at a young and impressionable age.” The girls who are targeted by this clothing are still developing physically and as such are more vulnerable to insecurity relating to their changing bodies; they are also more exposed to bullying; and they are the generation that is severely saturated by images of ‘celebrities’ who model the unrealistic and unhealthy archetype of ‘skinny’, reinforcing their minds the false equation of skinny = beautiful/healthy.
We must stand up to this. We must refuse to let our children be harmed by these messages. We will not allow Kate Moss and Zazzle and Teen Modelling to dictate what is beautiful, nor how we should treat our bodies.
Please stand with us. You have a voice and the power to change the message. A spokesman for the website said the range expressed personal opinions and viewpoints of the designers, but the Advertising Standards Agency has said it would look into the ads if complaints were sent to them. Ask the Advertising Standards Authority to use their new power over online marketing to remove the images from Zazzle’s website and let Teen Modelling know that you are not OK with children being taught that skinny is beautiful and that bodies should be treated unhealthily.
Go to http://www.asa.org.uk/Complaints/How-to-complain/Online-Form/Step1.aspx and complete their easy-access Online Complaint Form. Just a few lines will do. I wrote:
“Children need to be in an environment that promotes healthy eating and healthy body-image, and Kate Moss’ infamous “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” mantra is damaging to this kind of environment. Please stand up for the protection and well-being of our children by removing Teen Modelling’s harmful slogan t-shirts. We refuse to bring up our sons and daughters in this way. I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time and attention.”