I had an unusual experience today on the subway. I was waiting for about 10 minutes for a train in a heat wave that I’m sure every corner of the world has already heard about. I was carrying two grocery bags, literally dripping with sweat, and looking like a person does when they are carrying grocery bags in a 100° subway station. When I get on the train a man offers a promotional flyer and says, “You should read this.” I say, “No thank you,” to which the man responds by literally throwing the paper at me. I let it fall to the ground, and I notice the logo on the card says “EAT Campaign” and “Beauty Extinct”. I was mildly curious as to why this man singled me out on this car to be the recipient of this message, so when I got above ground I quickly googled it on my phone. The campaign is fighting eating disorders, excessive dieting, and “how beauty is lost”.
He describes beauty loss as the negative effect of not eating enough and how your physical appearance changes due to a lack of nutrients, such as thinning hair or bad skin.
Needless to say, being singled out as the target for this campaign, in a car where I was far from the only young woman, made me feel sort of icky. I have read through his website and believe in everything he is campaigning for. I have no objections to his message and think this is the kind of thing that people do need to see. What my problem with all this is is he singled ME out on this train, and then looked devastated when I left the paper on the floor.
On the website there is a picture of the founder and I’m fairly certain it’s the man I encountered on the train. This is editorializing for sure, but I imagine he saw me standing there, looking skinny, pale, and exhausted, and decided that I needed to hear his message. So this is my message to that man:
You don’t know me. By choosing me as the recipient of this message you’re essentially saying that I fit the physical bill for that “beauty lost” concept, and that is kind of hurtful. I actually am struggling with my health; I am currently anaemic and it has nothing to do with dieting or starving myself. There are many conditions that can lead to that loss of beauty you describe, and assuming that because of my gender, age and physical build that I am anywhere close to starving myself is unfair. I certainly don’t feel that I am “beauty wasted,” as your website puts it. Keep on fightin’ that good fight, but leave women whose circumstances you don’t know alone. Never target a single person.
I by no means feel that there were any bad intentions in this exchange, but he made me feel worse about my physical appearance being effected by my health, over which I have little control, than I already did. It certainly made me think, which I suppose is part of the goal, but making me a little more resentful of the body I should be nurturing back to health is far from it.