I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled running posts tomorrow!
As more and more traffic pours in from the Get Off My Internets (GOMI) forum, I thought I would just say hey there, hamcats, thanks for dropping in.
I’ve been a long-time lurker in the GOMI forums, a place where blog readers gather to offer (mostly) constructive criticism to popular bloggers. Sometimes the comments are mean spirited but usually they are not, or at least not in the threads that I lurk in.
I’m not a popular enough blogger to have my own GOMI thread, but I recently had a post of mine linked to from someone else’s thread. The thread is a private one, so if you go searching for me you’re not likely to find the mention unless you actually read up on that blogger. I only found it because I was able to locate the URL to the exact thread in my Google Analytics account. I would have eventually stumbled upon it anyway because it’s a thread that I fairly frequently check in on. (Note: it’s NOT a run blog thread.)
I’m not sure I ever wanted to be on GOMI, but I always thought if I was it would be so interesting to see what people dislike about me or my blogging style. The reality is when I saw getoffmyinternets.com was sending traffic to my site my heart dropped into my stomach! Before I realized that a post of mine had simply been linked to in someone else’s thread I actually got really nervous about what people could be saying.
Eventually I woman’d up and looked at the thread. I saw that my link was dropped in a thread but at that time no one really commented anything about it. Relief washed over me, and I vowed to not look at the thread again. If people are saying anything about me now I am blissfully ignorant… which is the opposite of how I thought I would react to a GOMI mention!
I know why I was so nervous about the GOMI mention and I’m going to share that with you today. First I want to say I’ve been really lucky to find a very supportive online community here at Kristina Running, and I do try to take reader feedback into consideration. Whenever I receive emails or comments from people who gently point out that I’ve omitted some information that would be helpful to share I have tried my best to fix the situation. In most cases I’ve gone on to amend my posts or I’ve responded with more information privately if the information was left out on purpose. I’m a pretty open book.
I do have a confession to make today though, and this is why I was scared of GOMI. There was one time that I photoshopped myself thinner in a picture. I felt so guilty about it afterwards that I’ll never do it again. It was a moment of weakness. As someone who publishes hundreds of photos of myself online, I realized how incredibly stupid it was to photoshop one picture. If I was going to photoshop myself I should do it in all the photos or none of them! I opted for none of them because I really think a blog like mine is some place that readers have come to expect authenticity.
There are other blogs that have made the jump from ‘personal journal’ to ‘magazine style’ and I think it’s sort of expected that many of those bloggers photoshop their images. Their blogs have really become the digital versions of print magazines, albeit with (usually) a bit more personality injected into them.
On GOMI the hamcats (how the forum participants refer to themselves) often talk about “impressionable young girls” who might not realize that these bloggers photoshop because the expectation is that bloggers just don’t do that. The theory is that photoshopped images lead readers to have unrealistic body image expectations that can spiral into eating disorders.
I understand that line of thinking because as a young girl I didn’t know that photos in magazines were altered. I assumed all the models and celebrities looked more or less like they did in the glossy pages and I wondered why I couldn’t look like that too. I had a thinspiration book with cut out images from magazines very, very early on in my life – before I was even a teenager.
Yes, I developed an eating disorder that made my life pretty miserable, but I don’t think the magazines made me do it.
To say that a magazine or a blogger is the reason why I developed an eating disorder discredits the seriousness of the disease. Eating disorders usually develop because of other psychological and emotional problems, not because Katy Perry is photoshopped on the cover of Cosmo magazine.
Sure, I think celebrities and popular bloggers (modern day celebrities, I suppose) can perpetuate the ED problem. When I was really messed up I was obsessed with Nicole Richie who also happened to have hit her lowest weight at the same time I did. We both fit into kids clothing – how cool! Nicole motivated me to continue losing weight, to continue purging, to continue on the same twisted path, but she wasn’t the reason why I had an eating disorder. It wasn’t until I got older and the cultural impact of mass media mixed together with a bunch of other factors that I could actually commit to starvation and then binge/purge.
Even if you consider that Nicole motivated me to continue down the rabbit hole, she alone was not enough to make me starve myself for an extended period of time. She doesn’t get that much credit. According to the Academy for Eating Disorders “the behaviors of restricting food intake, binging and purging have been shown to alter brain structure, metabolism and neurochemistry in ways that make it difficult for individuals to discontinue the behaviors.”
I remember as a kid thinking, “I’m only going to eat vegetables for however long it takes me to look like the magazines” and I didn’t even make it through one day. Of course, now I see that as a pre-pubescent 10 year old I couldn’t have looked like the 15 – 20 year olds in the magazines no matter how hard I tried, but that’s a different story.
To be fair, the National Eating Disorder Collaboration includes socio-cultural influences as having a role in the development of eating disorders. However, like most other health conditions, other factors play a role in the development of the disorder. For instance, being overweight is a major risk factor for having a heart attack, but it’s not the only factor at play.
Other factors that contribute to eating disorders include:
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty expressing emotions/feelings
- Being prone to extremes such as ‘black and white’ thinking
- Biochemical imbalance in the brain
- Troubled interpersonal relationships
- History of sexual or physical abuse
- History of being bullied
- Pressure to achieve/succeed/be perfect
I suppose it would be very easy to project my story onto others. To assume because the media I consumed wasn’t the core reason I developed an eating disorder that it can’t be that way for someone else.
I’m not a psychologist so I don’t have all the answers. I do know that seeing commercials for McDonald’s doesn’t by itself make you obese, and I don’t think photoshopped pictures on a blog can make you starve yourself for a prolonged period or binge/purge regularly. If you’ve ever been caught in a b/p cycle you would just KNOW that no amount of pictures can make you do it. Purging is fucking awful and after a while every fiber of your body begs you not to do it, but your brain runs the show in the end. Only a deep rooted disdain for oneself could make a person do it. It takes real professional help to break the cycle.
Anyway, I have digressed for way to long in this post! Circling back to my original thought: I once photoshopped a picture on this blog and I felt really guilty about it.
That guilt poured over and I figured GOMI was calling me out for the picture, but that wasn’t the case at all. The truth is, I barely photoshopped the picture and only my readers who are graphic designers probably noticed (since I’m not skilled at photoshop).
All of this is just to say that I feel relief confessing my photoshop sin and I thank GOMI for prompting me to finally do it. I removed the picture and now my life is a million times better! 🙂 I truly believe readers come here for authenticity. If you didn’t want that there are a million other more entertaining or motivational blogs you could read, but instead many of you come back each day.
One thing that keeps me blogging (aside from being a know-it-all who likes to put her opinion on the Internet) is seeing that over 50% of my blog traffic comes from repeat visitors. As a blogger that is a really, really cool thing to see!
Ohhhhkay, I’ll stop being all dramatic and emotional now! I definitely didn’t mean for this post to be so long! If you made it this far thanks for sticking with me and thanks so much for checking in on my blog.