Dangerously misinformed article on eating disorders posted on Muscle and Fitness website

*Trigger warning: I care a lot about the readers of this blog and I respectfully ask that you please do not read on if you are prone to be triggered around eating and health or body-related themes.*

Feministing reader Ann wrote in this week to alert us to a very disturbing article posted on Muscle and Fitness Hers website. The article is written by well-known female bodybuilder Pauline Nordin and is entitled “Defining ‘Eating Disorder’.” The subtitle of the post is “Since when did caring about what you put in your body become a bad thing?”


If you can’t tell already from the terrible title, the article presents a bizarre, dangerous, and ill-informed perspective on health, diet, exercise, and the psychology behind EDs. I’m not going to link to the piece because it certainly doesn’t deserve the traffic, but a brief summary and some excerpts follow, for the purpose of deconstructing and debunking this BS.

Nordin infers that people with EDs simply diet and train harder and smarter than other people — and that the people who don’t want to do this simply don’t have the “willpower” or “dedication”. She also implies that EDs are synonymous with being focused on your diet and health, a dangerously under-informed myth about not only what it means to have an eating disorder, but also what it means to live healthfully.

She starts by stringing together a bunch of weird questions that seem to conflate eating disorders with healthy eating, asking,

“What’s an eating disorder? Is it using nutrition to meet your goals? Is it to adapt nutritional habits that turn your average soft body into a lean, ripped body because you want to feel and look that way? Maybe just knowing exactly what’s in your food is an eating disorder? Or is it staying away from foods that are fattening?”

Uhm, let’s see. I know Nordin meant for these to be rhetorical, and perhaps leading? But I’m going to answer them, because I think it’s necessary to clear some things up. In order:

Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening emotional and physical problems related to food, eating, and health. So, no, they are not defined as “using nutrition to meet your goals.” And nope, not defined as “adapting nutritional habits” either. Just knowing what’s in your food is also not the same thing as having an eating disorder, although sometimes they can be characterized by being so preoccupied with food and weight that you can often focus on little else. And wrong again, simply staying away from fattening foods would not qualify as having an ED in most cases.

Nordin goes on:

If you choose to be ripped instead of soft, according to some people, you are obsessed. You are starving yourself, or you have no life. It couldn’t possibly be that you choose this over feeling fat, ugly and out of shape, right? So, if this sounds like you, then yes you do have an eating disorder. And yes, you likely also have an exercise addiction. Why? Because you diet smarter and train better and harder than all those other people who claim they do not want to look and feel like you do … just because they would never have the willpower, the guts, the dedication or the killer instinct to do it.

Terrible, right? Muscle and Fitness should be ashamed of themselves for publishing such crap. Even though it’s dressed up as “health advice,” this article mirrors the tone and content of many “pro-ana” groups and websites. We’ve written about these before. They are spaces and communities where people, quite often young women, bond over their eating disorders, share “tips” for perpetuating their disorders through unhealthy ways of life, including extreme and dangerous dieting techniques, and proclaim that there’s no “need” to get better. They wrongly discuss eating disorders as a way of life instead of a disease.

The devastating and distinctly unhealthy effects of such pro-eating disorder sites — and the thinking they propagate — are recorded and fairly well-know. A study from Stanford found that pro-eating disorder websites such as pro-ana sites teach girls new ways to lose weight, which obviously feeds the illness and puts them more at risk. The Academy for Eating Disorders recommends that pro-ana sites carry warnings. Of course, the post in Muscle and Fitness Hers has no such warning. It’s irresponsible, at best.

As if this godawful article (and a subsequent post on her personal blog in which she defends the initial article from criticisms) wasn’t enough, our tipster Ann alerts us to a disturbing second round to the drama. According to Ann, a friend of hers (who is a recovering anorexic) emailed the author of the post to express her frustration and disapproval with the contents. Nordin is a professional bodybuilder with a huge fanbase; she’s perhaps best known for being founder of “The Fighter Diet.” You would expect her to handle the email professionally, right?

Well, she didn’t. Instead, she sent her a snarky response and actually posted the email on her Facebook page, which has thousands of followers. The original emailer reports that 57 of her followers called her…you guessed it…fat.

Nordin and her Facebook fans should be totally and utterly ashamed of themselves that they would call a recovering anorexic fat through the safety of an anonymous online sphere. But Muscle and Fitness bears the real brunt of the responsibility, for providing a platform to host such hateful and irresponsible ideas without regard for the accuracy of their content or the effects of their negligence. You can email them here.

H/t Ann Olsen

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

    Complaint e-mail has been sent.

  • http://feministing.com/members/justynashley/ Justyn Ashley

    I wrote in a complaint. I am horrified and disgusted by this. Thoroughly inappropriate.

  • http://feministing.com/members/unsolicitedopinion/ Kate

    This is the letter I sent:

    To whom it may concern,

    It is grossly irresponsible for a publication purporting to encourage health and fitness to publish a misguided, factually incorrect, and hugely insensitive article like Pauline Nordin’s.

    Eating disorders are common and genuine medical conditions that require treatment. Eating disorders can be fatal if left untreated, and survivors often have medical problems for the rest of their life that relate to their disorder.

    Nordin’s conflation of eating well and exercising with actual eating disorders is grotesque, ignores the medical reality of the many suffering from the condition, and encourages people to think that disordered eating and compulsive exercising is ‘healthy’.

    Muscle & Fitness has an obligation to its readers to address this editorially inexcusable article. I would also recommend that it publicly distance itself from Nordin’s additional defence of her erroneous statements via social networking, which included publicizing a private message from and mocking a recovering anorexic.

    Muscle & Fitness should be associated with genuine and medically sound information about health, nutrition, and exercise, not vicious and uninformed writers who promote not just factually inaccurate but potentially seriously damaging pseudo-information via a respected platform.

    I strongly recommend that Muscle & Fitness post a considered response by a medical professional correcting the avalanche of inaccuracies communicated by Nordin, and recommend treatment options for any people who may suffer from them. I also suggest that Muscle & Fitness express an awareness of the appalling insensitivity of this article, and pledge greater editorial attention to prevent anything like this from being published under their title in future.

    I look forward to this issue being addressed promptly and unequivocally.


  • http://feministing.com/members/marykahlo/ Mary

    Email sent. Thank you for the link.

  • http://feministing.com/members/stellarose/ Stella

    I agree the article is stupid and irresponsible, and am well aware that eating disorders are a disease with serious or fatal consequences. But I think the author makes a fair point that women should not be pathologized for being interested in nutrition and exercise.

    Not wanting to be a part of a consumer culture that pushes processed foods made of chemicals, and encourages a sedentary lifestyle can be a perfectly healthy choice for some people. The same misogynistic culture that creates distorted images of women’s bodies also markets unhealthy foods to specifically to women (eg., as a substitute for sex or as part of being “naughty”), and has historically also excluded women from certain types of fitness activities on the basis of their gender, or characterized them as vain or masculine for doing them.

    • http://feministing.com/members/leostotch/ Leo Stotch

      That’s a good point, but I would argue that the “fitness” culture that Pauline Nordin belongs to is not about nutrition and exercise. The magazines and “nutritional supplement” companies that drive this industry have created their own consumer culture. They sell media, equipment, and all kinds of processed foods and unregulated drugs to people who want to achieve unrealistic and often unhealthy body types. Their advertising and advice is often heavily gendered or misogynist, and they play on their customers’ insecurities in order to sell their products.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      “But I think the author makes a fair point that women should not be pathologized for being interested in nutrition and exercise. ”

      I can certainly see that! I know there have certainly been times I’ve caught some attitude here or there from people over those things. But what they, and the author of the article seem to not really get is that you can’t really conflate caring about what you eat (which itself can be empowering on multiple levels) with the behaviors associated with eating disorders. If anything, I’ve seen some things advocated on pro-ana websites or blogs that would result in a severe lack of proper, balanced nutrients being put into the body.

  • http://feministing.com/members/indigogrl/ Natasha

    As a new subscriber to Feministing, Muscle & Fitness and a follower of Pauline Nordin and Fighter Diet I have to say I did not perceive the article the way it has been interpreted here on this site. I will agree that it’s a highly sensitive topic and should be handled with extra TLC but I did not get the feeling that Ms. Nordin was trying to undermine ED’s in any way. The audience in which she writes for and those that follow Fighter Diet are extremists in their fitness goals. Even in her info section she disclaimers that her style is not for everyone. She is sharp and abrasive and that is part of her brand–hence the name and what it stands for. She is not writing to an ‘Oxygen’ mainstream crowd so she will not be offending or misinforming the masses IMO. She is writing on behalf of those who have modified their lifestyle in a radical but healthy way to attain results that are extraordinary and that require a level of discipline that is otherworldly. They too have to under go ridicule, having family and friends try to innocently sabotage them and feel like they don’t fit in. Perhaps we all need some help with understanding others’ perspectives including Ms. Nordin’s.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      The FURTHEST thing I am is “Oxygen mainstream crowd” (As a matter of fact, I’ve had a pretty long-standing grudge against the way a brief segment once produced for Oxygen utilized footage of one of my former bands. But that’s a who other race-and-class based topic). I don’t know what you or the author’s idea of “extreme” is. However, given the practices of people I’ve known with ED’s or tips I’ve seen on some pro-ana sites, there is a difference between nutrition and an exercise regime, and an eating disorder.

      Honestly, if you want to make a point about understanding others’ perspectives, coming in and dismissive anyone who disagrees as “Oxygen mainstream” is a really peculiar way to go about it.

      • http://feministing.com/members/indigogrl/ Natasha

        (I accidentally hit the ‘report comment’ but didn’t mean to..sorry!:)

        Agreed–there IS a difference between nutrition and an exercise regime and an eating disorder…no doubt.

        But who said anything was wrong with ‘mainstream’?! Not I!
        I’ve re-read my post to discern if I implied it as it as not my intention to offend anyone (so apologizes to you) but clearly the use of the word bothered you. And that’s where I think the problem lies…interpretation starts within and we often hold others’ responsible for our own beliefs, insecurities and hidden complexes. And everyone has their own including Ms. Nordin. My point on perspective was that I’m certain it was not her intention nor Muscle & Fitness Hers to offend anyone. She took a particular angle on such a highly charged subject matter. Could it have been handled better? Yes. So hopefully all involved have grown a little taller from this.

        • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

          Yes it’s true I do think there’s quite a bit wrong with the bulk of what falls under “mainstream”. And I think I at least alluded to some of my issues with Oxygen. When in a defense of this author you said she doesn’t write for an Oxygen mainstream crowd, it sort of read like a suggestion that whomever doesn’t like her ideas or her writing style was de facto part of such a crowd.

          I understand you point about interpretation starting within, and obviously no one can be a mind reader and predict what may bother any other given person on the planet. But at the same time,going back to Ms. Nordin, I think there needs to be a balance between asking other people to consider one’s own perspectives, and also considering theirs. Possibly looking into what actual ED’s entail, maybe stopping to consider if how she’s presented her argument could be misconstrued in any way, etc. If it is taken in a way she didn’t mean it, perhaps thinking if it can be explained any more clearly rather than just saying anyone who disagrees must be fat or whatever.

          I don’t know if it’s possible to NEVER offend anyone, but it seems on one extreme you have censorship or , maybe like the recent Siri fiasco, going to such lengths to avoid a controversy that you end up doing more harm. Or at the other end, the kind of failure to stop and think how something may come across to others that you end up with the recent situation like with the PA anti-drinking campaign that ended up upsetting and triggering people, also doing more harm than good.

  • http://feministing.com/members/annolson/ Ann

    Hi, this is the person who sent in the tip. Since this article was made public, Muscle and Fitness Hers has banned me from commenting on their page. I’m not entirely sure why. I did leave a comment explaining why I thought the article was not helpful, but I made it as polite as possible, and I did not mention anybody’s name specifically. Shortly after that I was banned. It seems my comment was also deleted.

    It’s very unfortunate that Muscle and Fitness Hers has to react like this. Anyways, I would like to thank Feministing for drawing more attention to this issue. Things like this shouldn’t be ignored.

  • http://feministing.com/members/katya/ Katie

    I looked at the FB page, and it was really upsetting. Frankly, I’ll give Nordin credit to the extent that I think what she was trying to say was: “Sometimes people who are very careful about what they are eating and have a strenuous exercise routine are accused by others of having an eating disorder. But this is not an eating disorder because…..”

    However, when it was pointed out to her that she expressed this idea poorly, instead of apologizing and making clear that she was not suggesting that actual eating disorders were healthy or desirable, she totally doubled down and started mocking the people who were concerned that the way she phrased her article might be read as an encouragement to those who actually do have or are vulnerable to eating disorders. This is not a woman who takes criticism well, nor one with any level of sensitivity to other perspectives or experiences. Her FB comments were mean and nasty, and the idea that the only people who might object to the promotion of extreme eating habits were lazy fatties was completely uncalled for.

    • http://feministing.com/members/annolson/ Ann

      I made a comment explaining just that to Muscle and Fitness Hers but my comment was deleted. I really don’t hope they condone this sort of behavior.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ashgonz/ Ashley Gonzalez

    I completely disagree with this post.

    How many of you know what the results of your current blood work would be? How many of you know how many calories you need in a day? How many of you know how many of those calories should be fat, carbs, proteins, etc? How many of you shop for food and eat food based on your bodily needs versus satisfaction? I am going to guess that not many of you know the above.

    Well, I do, because I choose to read up about nutrition as much as possible and because I have had the opportunity to learn about the Fighter Diet methods.

    People are constantly telling me that I am unhealthy and have an eating disorder, because I eat my nutrients as needed, rather than whenever I want. Do I starve myself? NO! In fact, I eat more than the average person, except that I put healthy foods into my body and not just “anything.” In fact, one day, after my father expressed his concern for my health, we jotted down everything that he ate in a 24 hour period and I jotted down everything that I ate. In pounds of food, I ate WAY more than he did. My nutritional plan was balanced and had a majority of the necessary nutrients that I needed. My father had almost triple the amount of calories, barely any real nutrients and about 1/3 of the food that had consumed. No one ever claims my father has an eating disorder, in fact, people describe that as “normal.” When I was a nun, I gained forty pounds within 2 years. No one said a word or acted concerned. When I left the nuns, got my life organized, started working out and reading about nutrition, I lost fifty pounds and all of a sudden everyone started freaking out that I had a disorder. Eating disorders are real and should be a concern, but defining my process of becoming healthy as a disorder, and not defining my process of becoming obese as one, well, there is an issue and concern there.

    Does everyone in the world need to be as concerned about nutrition as Pauline Nordin, fitness competitors, body builders, etc? No, of course not, because they are all athletes, dedicated to the process of becoming lean and ripped. It is a form of art, as well as a sport. Yes, art. Most of these people know their bodies inside and out. I can personally tell you my exact breakdown of calories, my exact supplementation, details about bodily functions, my heart rate in multiple scenarios, my blood work, etc. If I can tell you all of that, they can tell you that much more. There is a sense of control and knowing when things are not right. This process that you are blogging about, that people consider unhealthy, well, it saved me from diabetes, it saved me from poor heart health, and it saved me being sick (I used to use all of my sick days… I haven’t used a single one during this year process).

    Does that negate the fact that people might read the work of Pauline Nordin and think that they need to eat less, form an eating disorder and do extreme/irrational things? No. It is true… people will misinterpret her work. Pauline Nordin does not encourage or create eating disorders for people–they exist with or without her. Her audience is not meant for people with disorders. Her target audience is for those who would like to get lean and be ripped at the same time. You can’t build muscle if you have an eating disorder–you need food–just the good clean kind.

    As a follower of Fighter Diet, I apologize for any bit of harassing that other people experienced. Personally, I know what it feels like to be constantly under attack for choosing the lifestyle that I have chosen and I even get pranked on (blending sugar, salt or other things in my food). There are times where I just want to unleash on people, rather than trying to understand their experience of my choices. I am sure many of her followers feel the same way.

    Even if you completely disagree with my words, which I already assume you will, I hope you can take the time to consider the dedication, passion and heart that it takes to be a competitor like Pauline. It is no easy feat, nothing to joke about and the truth is, it is what separates the great ones from the average ones (Note: I am referring to competitors, not your typical human being, but without nothing this, one could automatically assume that I am promoting a disorder for those already struggling with food and body issues–an easy assumption when taken out of context).

    • http://feministing.com/members/pizzuti/ Matt

      Nordin is doing a classic thing you see in many arenas – she evidently feels bullied as a woman for choosing a fitness lifestyle and people are mocking her or questioning her femininity – and is taking the route of “bully them back.” She’s mocking her mockers.

      You have to be very careful when you do that, because in this case she included people in recovery in those she “bullied back,” and they aren’t the ones who had done that to her.

      If she wants to sing an anthem of strength and empowerment for women to defy dominant expectations of femininity and choose the body they want, all power to her. She should also respect those who choose something else! And it’s ridiculous to think that she has the ONLY healthy lifestyle.

      Some people DON’T want to look like her, actually. Not necessarily because they think it’s wrong, not necessarily because they think it’s not feminine, but for their own reasons.

      I grew up a very skinny teenage boy. In college I got on a weightlifting kick for a couple years and ended up bulking up considerably. A few of my diehard feminist friends – mostly male feminists in this case – told me I was adopting a hegemonic script, trying to hard to be “masculine,” conforming to chauvinistic dominant social standards. They didn’t say it maliciously – just a comment, and I thought about it. My response was that it helped me understand gender better when I found out how much automatic respect I got for appearing much more masculine. And besides, I added, isn’t an outspoken male feminist who “looks like a jock” kinda interesting?

      But their complaints didn’t look – or feel – ANYTHING like the rude comments I got criticizing me for being skinny as a male – calling being a skinny guy girly, weak, effeminate – comments that were downright sexist (against women) and homophobic. And I found plenty of easy ways to defend my weightlifting lifestyle and motivate myself without mocking or belittling the people who were still where I had been.

      Perhaps having seen both sides of the coin changed my perspective – and I think most of the concerns expressed here are from people who also see both sides; women are criticized for both having too many curves and not having enough. You can’t simply elevate one over the other and not be sexist.

      • http://feministing.com/members/ashgonz/ Ashley Gonzalez

        Well put.
        I appreciated your approach to this, as well as your comments in general.
        Glad you took the time to respond.

      • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

        Excellent comment! You said it much better than I. Also, thank you for story.

    • http://feministing.com/members/angelh/ Angel H.

      Nobody here has denied that there is a lot of stigma placed on bodybuilders (especially female bodybuilders), and nobody has said that you shouldn’t support each other. But if Nordin was upset about people mistaking the nutrition and exercise habits of bodybuilders for eating disorders, what she should have done was explain what an eating disorder *really* was and how to seek help if you or a loved one might have one. Instead, she mocked eating disorders by misrepresenting them as “nutritional habits” and tossed in a little fat hatred for good measure.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      How many of you know what the results of your current blood work would be? How many of you know how many calories you need in a day? How many of you know how many of those calories should be fat, carbs, proteins, etc? How many of you shop for food and eat food based on your bodily needs versus satisfaction? I am going to guess that not many of you know the above.

      (shrug) I do.(Actually, yeah, I am due for a bloodwork. They’re not as routine as they were back when I was allowing myself to be given anti-psych meds.) Though I’d also add growing some of our own food on the roof to shopping for it! :) There’s a lot to think about with the subject of what we eat, from nutrition to farming practices to availability of foods in different areas, a lot of nuanced ways to look at it, which is why I initially said that paying attention to these things can be it’s own form of empowerment. Personally I’ve learned I feel more energized and clear headed when I’m able to plan a meal of locally or regionally grown things, and use ingredients based on what nutrients they contain.

      I have learned that the policing of what women eat comes in more ways than the fear of weight gain. For everyone who will judge a woman for eating a fatty Hostess snack, I’ve learned that there are also those who will give her grief if she opts for a piece of fruit. These can range from “come on, live a little” cajoling to “you’re not obsessing over every little thing you eat, are you”? Etc. Etc. So yeah, I do get the frustration at it being assumed you have an eating disorder when you don’t, but I also think if someone DOES have an eating disorder, conflating that with “dieting smarter” is inaccurate, and going on to state that anyone who doesn’t do exactly the same lacks “willpower and guts, etc.” just comes across as having no understanding of what an actual eating disorder is, anymore that the people who constantly critique what someone eats do.

  • http://feministing.com/members/louloup/ Whitney

    The letter that was initially posted, which I wrote, never accused Pauline of having an eating disorder. It never bashed weight lifting or healthy eating. I barely knew anything about her, and never meant her or her fans any harm or ill will. Of course I don’t think she really wants people to hurt themselves. I did accuse her of normalizing and promoting eating disorders, because that’s what she seemed to do in her article, in a roundabout way or not. She claimed that what many people consider an eating disorder – her lifestyle – is what makes you more determined, gutsy, and better than all those lazy fat people who lack willpower. I was angry that Pauline had taken this concept of a bodybuilding lifestyle, stamped the words “eating disorder” and “exercise obsession” on it, and said it was okay. There is no excuse to even suggest that eating disorders are normal and acceptable – it’s a deadly mental illness. If you saw that the meaning of a health condition near and dear to your heart was being misused, I guarantee it would rile you up, too.

    People have argued, “She’s not promoting eating disorders; she’s pointing out that some people can accuse you of being eating disordered, just for the fact that you eat rigidly and are dedicated to exercise.” I understand that, but it’s NEVER okay to even imply that eating disorders are about health and fitness, that it can be mistaken for something normal, or that any form of it is admirable – that’s where people have taken exception to her article. Eating disorders are glossed over and misunderstood severely in our culture, people are dying from them all the time (by the millions), and in my opinion, it was irresponsible for a fitness spokesperson to proclaim that it’s fine to have what people may deem an “eating disorder” because it speaks to your willpower and superiority.

    I agree with the author that this all sounds pro-ED wrapped up in a different package, whether that was intended or not. It was also irresponsible because what if some of her followers do have eating disorders (quite likely – EDs are common) and their friends/families are expressing concern, and they won’t listen because Pauline is saying that they’re all wrong? If someone is worried you are sick with an eating disorder, they may have a good reason – in some cases, they would be right. That’s not for her to decide, because she’s not a psychologist and she doesn’t know all 20,000+ of her fans. People have said that she’s not responsible for how her articles are interpreted – I disagree. She’s a fitness professional who is selling a product, and dispensing fitness and diet advice that thousands of people follow. She has a responsibility to endorse sound information. I wish she would have clarified what an eating disorder is, that it’s possible to form one as a bodybuilder, that strict eating and exercise can easily start an eating disorder (it does in many people, and they need to be aware of it) and that it’s something to be taken very seriously. You cannot deny that a significant population of bodybuilders has or had eating disorders, and that’s not something that should be glossed over or dismissed.

    You can be a bodybuilder and not have an eating disorder, absolutely. No one said otherwise. But Pauline and her followers are missing the point that the things she promotes – counting every single calorie, avoiding some foods at all costs, being obsessed with exercise, basing your self-worth on your body, etc. – ARE symptoms of eating disorders, whether she likes it or not. Perhaps some people can do all or some of those things and not be disordered – clearly, many people feel this way, and they can do what they want, and should do it, without judgment – but it’s not the case for many, many people, myself included. A lot of people cannot be so extreme without triggering a relapse, ED behaviors, or the start of an eating disorder, and it’s scary that Pauline is saying that this is the ONLY way to be fit, when that can’t be further from the truth. The majority of the population is not this extreme with food and exercise.

    My main points I wanted to express: She should have, first off, made the distinction between a healthy body building lifestyle and eating disorder, instead of muddling the two, and secondly, she should have made it very clear that one is a mental illness that calls for immediate help, not refusal to listen to people’s concerns. It seems apparent that she doesn’t understand the difference, or just refuses to acknowledge it, as her article and responses have been defensive and completely black and white, and she promotes this all or nothing mindset to her followers. This concerns me. I say none of this with judgment or malice. As I stated originally, I hope she doesn’t have an eating disorder (not implying she does) because it’s the worst kind of hell, and I just wanted her to clarify the difference between an eating disorder and healthy bodybuilding/dieting in that article, given the vulnerabilities of her audience, which is not asking for much. I did not want this article to inadvertently cause someone to be in denial of their eating disorder, which could have very serious consequences. She could have said “no” to me and left it at that; I was only expressing my personal opinion, and I tried to be fair about it.

    I really had no other issue apart from the wording in her article, and that all changed when I saw how she reacted. She has since written an article that
    demeans anyone who does not subscribe to the fitness/diet regime she’s on – anyone who (gasp!) drinks lattes and doesn’t weight lift. They’re all fat and jealous, right? Come on. As another commentator said, plenty of people don’t want to look like Pauline or be super dedicated to weight lifting, and are even healthy and thin – that is okay! So is bodybuilding, as long as it makes you healthy and happy; I think it’s absolutely wonderful. Bodybuilding is amazing for so many people. If you’re happy, good for you. Live life the way you want. Why is she being so judgmental? The way that she mocks everyone who doesn’t agree with her or share her lifestyle is offensive and totally uncalled for. I believe people should be free to do what they want with their bodies without fear of ridicule – we all deserve respect, and that has nothing to do with our body fat percentages.

    This all started out with a concerned private email, not intended to be harmful, that was posted publicly. (I’m unsure of her intentions, but I do appreciate that she did it anonymously, and that it sparked some interesting debate – Pauline, no joke, thank you for that. Some of these discussions have been really thought-provoking, and it’s nice how open you are being with everyone.) What she’s done in response to further constructive criticism (that I’ve seen – if anyone has attacked/insulted her, that is wrong and I do not support it) is vehemently deny any connection to eating disorders in an over the top manner, and also encourage people to harass anyone who has disagreed with her. (I mean, literally harass – she asked everyone on facebook to report someone for “spamming” because she linked to this article once?) Many of her followers are being spiteful, calling me and several others fat, fighting and making personal attacks right and left, and they largely seem incapable of holding any intelligent conversation that conflicts with their extreme views. It’s possible to discuss this without a full out flame war. This would have been a great opportunity to open up an interesting discussion with her on eating disorders in the weight lifting world, but she is too defensive and angry to even talk about it reasonably. I am not sure why. Muscle and Fitness Hers have been unreasonable too, by the way, ignoring and blocking people who constructively criticized her article. Why all the censorship and hysteria? There is absolutely no need for it. But regardless I am thankful for the conversation.

    Thank you for reading. Sorry I’m so long-winded. ;)

  • http://feministing.com/members/jericho/ Tara

    As a young women with an eating disorder who has only just begun the recovery process, I am appalled that a health an fitness website would post an article with content such as this. I understand what the author was trying to say but an eating disorder/exercise addiction is something COMPLETELY different from a healthy person that watches what they eat, how many calories they take in a day, knows their body composition, “bloodwork”…ect. To compare these two groups of people is completely appalling and ignorant. A person with an ED does not just have more “willpower and determination” than the average person, they have a PSYCHOLOGICAL problem that allows them to refuse food (and that’s only people with anorexia, I won’t go into the other types of eating disorders who have more “normal” body types or are even overweight).

    I do not know how much the subscribers on this site know about EDs but issues with food, body image, and weight are more like symptoms than the actual problem. The disorder goes much deeper and can only be taken care of with years of therapy and life changes. It saddens me to think that followers of Pauline who do not know about EDs will read this article and become so sadly misinformed. If any of you are interested in learning more about eating disorders you should look up information on the NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) website. I also have an anonymous blog that I just started documenting my recovery process that you can read to get a better personal perspective. I’m not just trying to “get followers” or anything. In fact the only people who really read my blog are my friends and family. I’m just really trying to raise awareness about the issue of Eating Disorders.


  • http://feministing.com/members/pissypixie03/ Deanna
  • http://feministing.com/members/fascinatedskeptic/ Natalie

    I think at the very least the link should have been put up. Then the readers would have gotten to see exactly what the article said. From what you have commented on it does sound concerning but as an informed reader I would feel better if I could see the article next to your critique.

  • http://feministing.com/members/ehelck/ Elle

    I too wrote an email to Muscle and Fitness Hers several days ago, citing facts from the American Psychological Association as well as my experience of having a good friend deteriorate from the illness. It seems they have finally removed the article.