Company Magazine: Be responsible about your articles
This petition had 35 supporters
Their recent article, "This is Skinny Club" glamorised behaviours that could be indicative of an eating disorder, extreme control of eating and lying about eating habits. This is irresponsible. Company should take this seriously, by writing an article that shows the other side of the story, and providing details of available support which they did not publish with the original article. This petition is in support of a letter Lancaster University Feminist Society wrote in response to Company Magazines article and their suggested response.
Dear Ms. White,
As readers of your magazine, we were extremely pleased to see your article regarding Feminism in 2013 in your June edition. We found it to be refreshing, positive and relevant to the moving times. It was especially helpful to have the mention of very innovative movements within feminism such as the Everyday Sexism Project and the inclusion of big names such as Kate Nash willing to align herself with the movement. In addition, the promotion of the Spare Rib revival is keeping feminism a core part of your magazine which is great, especially considering so many other magazines aimed at women dismiss it.
However, we were then disappointed to turn the page and see an article regarding body image titled “This is Skinny Club”. Whilst there was acknowledgement that this article could cause issues for the readership, the comment page you set up to view responses to it was not substantial enough for us and therefore we have taken the initiative to send this letter in response and many signatures in support of that response. It also contained a loaded question – “Did you find our article offensive or refreshingly honest?” – positioning those who do not approve of the article as easily affronted when in reality the whole article was deeply problematic for a variety of reasons, not merely slightly controversial.
Your audience is mainly women, many of whom are in their teens or early twenties. Company Magazine has influence, and should use this influence positively. This article was a total disregard for the responsibility you have to promote healthy body image alongside healthy eating habits. In the article, “This is Skinny Club”, it promoted how “good” it is to be thin, using the quote from Kate Moss that “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. This is positioned alongside quotes from the anonymous writer that “with a little bit (OK, A LOT) of hard work, you can get the body you want, anyone can”. The writer continually talks about the amount of control she has to have over her diet, just to achieve this supposedly body ideal. The article also spoke about her lying to her friends about her eating habits which can be indicative of an eating disorder.
Company Magazine should not condone dieting that borders on being unhealthy for the sake of ‘beauty standards’ or rivalry over body shape. Women are made to feel ugly from the media every day. However, a lot of people feel Company generally stands out as being unproblematic in terms of oppressive fashion/beauty standards so you should not compromise your selling point by taking those risks with articles that are insensitive and out of touch with your readers. It’s unhelpful for you, but also for the many women who read Company Magazine and will be influenced by what you say.
We also found a lack of support for those who may have been triggered by this article, in way of help lines or organisations who may be able to help should they be suffering from any of the issues raised in the article. There are many charities within the UK that specifically deal with the issues that were raised, and your lack of recognition of these was problematic for us. For example, Beat is a charity which combats eating disorders by providing treatment and support all over the UK.
As a way of rectifying this article, we, and all of those who signed the petition, would be glad if you were to direct anyone suffering from body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and an extreme lack of body confidence to places where they can find support. In addition, perhaps an article which showed someone who didn’t fit the “body ideal” but was still happy with the way they look would be a step in the right direction for your readership.
We hope journalists at Company were supportive of the anonymous contributor in terms of letting her know the dangers of too much control over diet and exercise but also the support available, and were not wholly glamorising her lifestyle for the sake of gaining an eye-catching headline, which we trust you wouldn't do.
We love your magazine, and we hope to see many more positive articles from you in the future, especially more geared towards confident women who eat healthily and don’t necessarily conform to the “beauty ideal”.
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