Monday, 24 July 2017

5 ways to help a loved one with Binge Eating Disorder

Nowadays, when we know about another person suffering from mental illnesses (eating disorders are definitely included!), we tend to think different things: I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY / it's not my business anyway / they seem fine / they have close friends to help them / they're not asking for help, so why should I talk to them first?

Because of those thoughts, we end up not helping them out. Who knows what positive impact you may have had on them if you asked a simple, "How have your eating habits been lately?" But sometimes, even those with good intentions have no idea how to approach and help those facing mental illnesses.

You are here to help your loved ones who are going through binge eating disorder. Mental illnesses are still stigmatized and not talked about openly at all and enough in our society. It starts with us - you must not feel scared or embarrassed to talk to your loved one about mental illnesses. Here are 5 top tips for you to help a loved one going through binge eating disorder:

1) Empathize With Us
Offer to be the one we can call when we are in the middle of binges. Binge eating is uncontrollable and it is terrifying. The guilt that comes with binge eating is extremely cruel. You need to understand that this is a very difficult psychological and physical struggle for us. Understand that B.E.D. is a mental illness that cannot be solved in a day. It requires the person to change their mindset and attitude towards food, and it could take months, years, or even a lifetime.

Educate yourself on B.E.D. Ask your loved one if they feel like talking about it or certain issues strongly related to it, such as their views to their own body images, or their bad days eg. after a binge.
Instead of just saying, "I am sorry that you are going through this", stand in our shoes and try to understand how difficult life can be for us.
Some examples of supporting your loved one and displaying empathy:
  • "It must be really difficult for you to go through this."
  • "It's okay that you have binges. I know you are working hard to make things right, and that's what matters."
  • "We'll get through this together."
  • "You are human being. You have struggles and you are not a burden to me."
  • "I believe you."
2) Encourage Us to Get Our Minds Off Food
It is not going to be easy, but even a half-day hangout (that doesn't only involve food) may help them forget about food temporarily. Go for a hike, walk dogs, chat over lunch, go shopping together, take lots of selfies and feel confident in your own skins. Blast music and dance in your rooms. Listen to Summer 2011 music. Play board games. Picnic together. If you are doing an activity that involves eating, remember to EAT MINDFULLY together.

3) Make Them A Care Package or Sunshine Box
I made a sunshine box for a close friend of mine who was under lots of stress this year, the cover of the box read:

These little surprises will really make their day! Even writing a card to your friend is great. Encourage your friend and tell us that you are there with them and you will help them conquer this terrible mental illness. There is no harm in putting in some FOOD inside. [I have loads of ideas for these care boxes, leave a comment if you'd like to know!]

4) Do not question their choices of eating the same foods over and over again.
During my binge eating days, I would only accept eating tomato beef macaroni every day at school. I was too scared to break my routine, as it may lead to another binge.
Suggest new food choices kindly. Suggest natural or unnatural delicious foods, but not entirely sugary or super processed. That could be avocados, muesli bars, raisin bread, sunflower seeds bars. Ask them if they would like to try something new today. Make them homemade banana bread! Be positive around them. They are under so much stress and pain already, they really need that touch of positivity in their lives.

5) Check In On Them Regularly.
With an unpredictable mental illness like B.E.D, we may have complications and suffer from bouts of depression, anxiety or display other mental or physical signs. Read up on B.E.D. and make sure you hold a non-judgmental attitude towards their behaviour. It is a very tough time for them and your love and support will be highly appreciated.

It never hurts to just ask them, "How are you today?" or "Have you been eating well?" or "Do you feel comfortable talking to me about this...How are your eating habits lately?"
Honestly, I wish more people supported me when I was suffering from B.E.D - it was a terrible time in my life. I am thankful for school counselors and friends that helped me recover. Yet, most of my binges happened at home, so family could have been key to be part of my support system.
Always remember to take care of your own mental health above all. 

Shoutout to you if you have been/ are being there for and with your loved one throughout their B.E.D. journey.


Monday, 17 July 2017


picture taken from
This picture accurately captures what the binge eating vicious cycle is all about.
Not sure if you have been in the “Restrict” zone? Do you display these actions but are not willing to admit that you have been restricting? Do you think you are on a diet or a very strict diet, but in fact you are displaying symptoms of an eating disorder?
Restrict may include actions such as:
  • counting calories for everything you eat
  • being on a diet
  • only eating fruits & vegetables for meals / throughout the day
  • drinking an excessive amount of water to make you feel full
  • only eating food low in calories
  • never stopping to lose weight. There is no goal weight. You want to be as thin as you can.
  • using exercise as a means to punish yourself
  • food controls almost all your thoughts


1) Give up dieting.
You must stop the RESTRICT aspect for the cycle to stop, so BINGE and GUILT do not follow afterwards. Focus on your health, not your weight or the calories you consumed.
You do not have to stick with a raw, natural, unprocessed food diet. You can treat yourself cookies if you feel like having them! Remember, remember, remember: Moderation, not deprivation.
2) Don’t let yourself get very hungry.
Try to eat something every 3-4 hours. Do not go for 4 hours without eating anything at all. Keep drinking water, hydrate yourself dry people! Tune in with your feelings from time to time, ask yourself if you are hungry. Ask yourself if you are bored, tired, sleepy, or procrastinating instead of actually feeling hungry.
3) Learn your triggers.
Ask yourself: What feelings or moods drive my urge to binge? What foods trigger off my binge eating episodes? Do I eat mindfully when I eat? Does a lot of guilt come with the binge eating episodes?
After keeping a food journal, I noticed that I would have binge episodes the day after restricting myself with 1500 calories a day. During my “restrict” day, lunch would always be a bowl of tomato beef macaroni, nothing different. I feared and hated trying new foods because I did not want to pack on any extra calories. I was scared of my changing my routine to try something new.
4) Look for other ways to feel good.
This could be physical activity, playing a musical instrument, writing, reading, talking with friends, napping, praying, exploring, stretching, doodling, or whatever the hell you want to do.
“Our body is doing its best, every moment of every day.”

* * *

Disclaimer: The Sydney Feminists are not medical professionals and any advice offered on the Blogger platform is not comparable to professional medical advice.  If you are suffering from an eating disorder, please consult your doctor first.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Betty Boop Through the Years

Cartoon character Betty Boop took the world by storm upon her debut in 1931. Her unique voice, signature “Boop-Oop-a-Doop” catchphrase and Jazz-age flapper dancer look made her standout from her Disney and Looney Tunes animation contemporaries. She was aimed at an adult audience and was considered one of the first Hollywood sex symbols. Like many other areas of American cinema at the time, when the Production Code was implemented in 1934, Boop saw drastic changes in representation and personality. She went from a carefree, sexually confident independent woman to a conservative fully dressed introvert.

Mae Questel and Max Fleischer

Boop was the brainchild of Max Fleischer. He was born on July 18, 1883, and was also known for bringing the Popeye the Sailor Man comic strip to the silver screen. After completing a commercial art degree, Fleischer worked in various forms in the entertainment industry. He started Inkwell Studios with his brother, Dave, in 1921. Besides Betty Boop and Popeye, Inkwell Studios are also famous for creating the first Superman cartoons. Dave directed all one hundred plus Betty Boop shorts.

Changing the name in 1929, Fleischer Studios pioneered sound in animation. The first series was Song Car-Tunes in 1924. It beat Disney’s Steamboat Willie – Mickey Mouse’s debut – by almost four years. Each Song Car-Tunes entry was approximately three minutes long and also started the “follow the bouncing ball” trend. Audiences could now singalong by following a ball on the screen as it moved to music and subtitles. Talkartoons was another series of short animation films introduced in 1929. This is where Boop first appeared.

Boop as a French Poodle

Betty Boop’s first incarnation was an anthropomorphic French poodle. Within a year of her first short, Dizzy Dishes, Boop’s appearance changed to a woman. Her human form was modelled after Clara Bow, Helen Kane and “Baby” Etsher Jones. Bow was known for her supporting roles in It and Wings. Both films came out in 1927, with Wings winning Best Picture at the first Academy Awards. Kane and Jones were both 1920s Jazz singers. Kane was known as “The Boop Boop a Doop Girl”, eerily similar to the character’s famous catchphrase “Boop-Oop-a-Doop”.

Mae Questel

A handful of women have voiced Boop, but Mae Questel is by far the most recognised. Born in 1908, her original plan was to become a teacher. Questel got the role after participating in a Helen Kane impersonation contest. She won and received $100 (no figures in this article have been adjusted for inflation). The contest ran yearly from 1928 to 1938 and women aged between six and eighteen could enter. Questel was also famous for voicing Olive Oil in the Popeye cartoons.

Helen Kane

In 1932, Kane sued Fleischer and his studio for using her likeness as Betty Boop without permission. She demanded $250,000 in compensation and the lawsuit dragged on for a couple of years. Kane said to Fleischer she would drop the case if he fired the other women and made her the sole voice of Boop. He only wanted Questel and the case continued. The lawsuit ended when footage of “Baby” Etsher Jones performing surfaced that proved that she was the real caricature and inspiration for Boop. Jones was unable to be located to testify. It was later believed she had died the year before.

“Baby” Etsher Jones

At the height of her popularity, Boop was shown in cinemas all over the world. She was especially well received in Japan. So much so that Boop sings in Japanese in A Language All My Own (1935). Fleischer wanted to make sure the cartoon was as authentic as possible and used Japanese exchange students as a test audience.

Boop in A Language All My Own (1935)

A stricter Motion Picture Production Code was introduced in 1934. It was a way of censoring film content before distribution. It was regulated within the industry itself by the Legion of Decency, a group that had strong ties to the Catholic Church. The doctrine consisted of a list that was thought to be offensive to a film going audience. Some areas that were boycotted included homosexuality, interracial lovers, drug and alcohol use, abortion and nudity. Couples were no longer allowed to be seen in the same bed together on screen. Boop was caught in the crossfire.

Boop after the Production Code

Her appearance changed drastically and she started wearing long dresses and cardigans. Her hoop earrings and bracelets disappeared. She slowly lost her signature curls and got a boyfriend, Freddie. Her personality changed and she became quieter and less outspoken. Over time, the stories began to focus more on Boop’s supporting cast members – Pudgy the dog, Koko the Clown and the eccentric Grampy – and less on her. The audience began to lose interest and production of new Boop cartoons came to an end in 1939. Questel retired from voice acting to start a family around the same time. Fleischer Studios had financial issues and was defunct by 1942. Boop faded into obscurity.

Betty Boop cartoons were among the first to enter television syndication in the 1970s. She found a new audience and resurgence here. Boop made a cameo in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). She appeared in her original black and white form and was, again, voiced by Mae Questel. Besides some failed TV specials over the last thirty years, no new Betty Boop comeback has occurred. Questel passed away in 1998. Boop’s creator, Max Fleischer, died in 1972. These days Boop exists only in merchandise and for her nostalgia factor.

Boop in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

By: Matthew J. Healy

Author’s Note: Betty Boop Through the Years is dedicated to my mum, Sherryn Mary Kernaghan, an original Boop revival fan who left this world too soon. Your love and inspiration still guide me, and I still hear your voice in my head telling me off whenever I do something stupid.


100 Little Known Facts About Betty Boop (
Betty Boop and the Production Code of 1934 (
Betty Boop – Under The Production Code (
Clara Bow (
Helen Kane (
Mae Questel: The Voice Behind Betty Boop (
Max Fleischer (

The Forgotten Black Woman Behind Betty Boop (

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