Eating Disorders

Counselor slams photo editing, fashion industry in viral Facebook post

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A Kansas woman’s Facebook post in which she urges young girls to reject societal expectations clothing sizes has gone viral, garnering nearly 60,000 reactions on the social media site in less than three weeks.

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In the Dec. 11 post, Deena Shoemaker, a counselor based in Wichita, describes how she has repeatedly seen young girls question their worth relative to their weight.

“I've worked with teen & pre-teen girls as a leader and counselor in various places for the last 6 years,” Shoemaker wrote in the post, which had been commented on more than 4,400 times as of Thursday morning. “I've listened to countless girls tell me about their new diets and weight loss fads. I've have girls sob in my arms and ask me, ‘If I were skinnier, would he have stayed?’ I've counseled girls who were skipping meals. I've caught some throwing up everything they've just eaten.”

In addition to slamming the practice of photo manipulation with Photoshop, Shoemaker wrote that she takes particular issue with the fashion industry, which she said designates pant sizes arbitrarily based on its personal taste at any given time. In the post, Shoemaker features a collage of six photos of herself at the same weight wearing size 5, 6, 8 and 12 pants.

“At this point it's a pretty universally known truth that you're lying to us and those aren't accurate portrayals of the human body. I can prove it to girls pretty easily by simply showing them how photoshop [sic] works,” she wrote. “But when you resize a girl's pants from a 9 to a 16 and label it ‘plus size,’ how am I supposed to fight that? Photo manipulation is one thing but how do you expect me to convince her that the number printed inside her clothes is a lie too? How do you expect me to convince her that she doesn't need to skip dinner for the next month because her pant size didn't *actually* go up by seven digits?” 

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Shoemaker— whose post had also been shared nearly 90,000 times as of Thursday morning— concludes her message by aiming to empower young girls like those she counsels.

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“And to you; my dear beautiful girls, my size 2 girls or my size 18 girls, your size doesn't determine your beauty; your life does,” she wrote. “You are lovely and you are loved. Just exactly the way you are.”

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