So, as I write this, we’re suitably gutted at Body Gossip HQ.
I’ve been a journalist. I know the score. You meet these wonderful, 3 dimensional people and it’s your job to turn them into caricature-esque tabloid fodder.
Yet, even armed with this knowledge, and with significantly lowered expectations, I was shocked and disappointed by today’s article in the Daily Express. Claiming to give an ‘insight’ into how Body Gossip came about from the perspective of its co-Directors (i.e. Ruth and myself), what it in fact does is present us (wrongly) as two girls who suffered from eating disorders who run a campaign aimed at teenage girls.
Ruth and I are very proud of the fact that Body Gossip does not exclude anyone. Regardless of age, gender, race, culture, social background or sexual orientation, everyone has a body so everyone has a story and can contribute to the debate. The stories we receive offer perspectives on a wide range of topics, from adolescence, to ageing, to sexual relationships, to pregnancy, to illness and injury, even tattoos and piercings. Whilst, of course, we are happy to receive stories from past and present eating disorder sufferers and to present their voice into the mix, we are not specifically an eating disorder campaign.
Whilst I did suffer from bulimia, I am now fully recovered and do not think that my former eating disorder is the most interesting thing about Body Gossip (or, indeed, about me). Eating disorders are currently a ‘sexy’ topic in the media, but they have a duty to report on them in a balanced and responsible way. Rather than dwelling on my physical and emotional symptoms, it would have been far more inspiring to hear about what I have achieved, with Ruth of course, since my recovery.
Ruth, conversely, contrary to what the article states, has never suffered from an ED. She was careful to emphasise this several times during the interview. She once went on a strict diet because she thought she’d get more acting work. This, apparently, translates to a ‘debilitating eating disorder’ in newspaper speak, which is, frankly, an insult to anyone who has ever suffered from one. Ruth knows this and would never make claims to have had an ED.
A few more anomalies which need correction:
• The presentations I do in schools and colleges throughout the UK are aimed at teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 and whilst, yes, I do share my story, it’s infinitely more about them – It is NOT in any way shape or form “sharing my story with children in workshops”.
• I’ve been involved with Body Gossip for 3 years, not 2.
• The point I made about Marylin Monroe is that in the 1950s plastic surgery wasn’t available to the public in the way it is now, so most people knew they couldn’t totally emulate a celebrity. The point was a lot more complex than the small part that was quoted, which makes me look like a moron.
• At no point in the interview did Ruth suggest that advertising, airbrushing and the media do not contribute to people's body insecurities. The quote printed was taken out of context - she was referring to a specific part of the campaign, aimed at tackling people's self perception, and not Body Gossip as a whole.
In fact, almost all of Ruth's 'story' was either entirely fabricated or exaggerated - She can set you straight on the truth of the matter and I am sure will take the opportunity to do so.
Most disappointingly, our two most exciting projects, the 5 new films we have in the pipeline and the book we are publishing in September, were not mentioned at all.
Ruth and myself work tirelessly to make Body Gossip one of the forerunning body image campaigns in the UK and the Express article does not do us, or our beloved campaign, justice.