UK fashion giant Topshop recently pulled photos of what international media called a "painfully thin" 18-year-old Australian model Codie Young.
From personal experience, I know that media taunts won't help, but rather exacerbate Young's problem.
Recently Codie Young addressed rumors, spread by eating disorder groups, that she definitely suffers from anorexia and/ or bulimia.
"And finally yes okay I maybe an American size 0-2 and a UK size 8 so what. There are overweight/obese people who are a size 34 or 18 but know [no] one says anything to them because you don't want to affend [offend] them," Codie wrote on her blog.
"Throughout my entire childhood I was called anorexic and people would ask if I was bulimic. And it was really hard sometimes for me to deal with as I have always been this way."
Lashing out against people of various body types would have been exactly what I would of done in her circumstance-- confronted with extreme stress, only I was in my early 20s when I battled eating disorders.
IF Young is actually anorexic/ bulimic, media taunts calling her "painfully thin" won't help.
Some four years ago, I was nearly 150lbs overweight. I started dieting. Why? Not for my health, but because I was sick and tired of being seen as an asexual creature by all my exceedingly sexual high school friends. Although I was only a teenager, I feared dying alone, because literally no one made me feel even slightly attractive.
The world may watch what they say to the obese, as Codie Young pointed out, but somehow we are entirely invisible.
First I started with the protein-rich carb-free diet. Then, as I started realizing that EVERYTHING has some carbs, I started cutting back until I wasn't eating much at all.
Spurred on by my success, at one point, I was only eating block of Tofu with soy and vinegar (no oil) for breakfast and dinner, and cucumbers. No lunch. In only two years, I was 30lbs below the standard weight for my body type.
And I was moved to eat less and less. My girlfriends seemed to admire me for how much weight I lost. So I kept on losing.
In retrospect, I realized the stress I experienced at school played an important role. As an undergrad, I took solace in the fact that although I might fail a test, I was still getting thinner.
Then, people started expressing concern. I responded to their concern by literally thinking that they were just too fat to understand - And that they, never having been as obese as I was, would never understand what I was going through.
I had learned to fear food, almost religiously so.
Then I got into grad school. I had a terrible master's project adviser who wasn't helpful. My masters, flailing, I was incredibly stressed. For those few months, I found myself punctuating long periods of under-eating by binging on all the food in one refrigerator in a kitchen used for hosting parties for funders on campus, then throwing it all up in a bathroom. It was late at night. No one was in my building on campus but me.
That bathroom - one private bathroom, is hell to me now.
One very thin friend - one of many who I had either confessed my eating disorders to or who found out just by hanging around me-- cried and screamed at me I was killing myself. I hated her. I felt as though she was trying to sabotage me.
Because I identified strongly with the lyrics to a Lily Allen song The Fear: "Now everything's cool as long as I'm gettin thinner." I didn't hear the rest of the song - the lyrics about disillusionment. I might be failing at my masters project, but at least I could eat whatever I want and throw it up.
But then I started feeling horribly. I was wearing my esophagus down and breaking out into hives. And my body, reacting to the low caloric intake, wasn't gettin any thinner.
One night, in that small bathroom, puking all my stolen food into a toilet, I passed out for a few second and knocked my head on the bathroom door.
I thought, Am I stupid enough to do all of this to myself. By the grace of God, I somehow learned how to be ok with having curves. I thought, I WOULD rather experience life a little chubby-with or without a partner-- than die very skinny.
But those realizations didn't come with anyone harping on me to stop - not in the overly aggressive way that they did it. That was too much stress. It was stress - anxiety about life and a desire to eat without gaining weight that made me anorexic/ bulimic.
Jean-Paul Sartre once said that people only take advice that they want.
Whether Young has an eating disorder or not, I can assure you that the media fanfare won't solve her problems. But maybe people don't really care about affecting her or the youth she's inspiring to be "painfully thin."