Diane Israel is a former world-class triathlete. She won the Pikes Peak Marathon and several other major races. At the age of 28 Diane retired from professional competition. She collapsed from “athletic bulimia”– purging through extreme and excessive exercise. Her bone density was the equivalent of a 70 year old. She didn’t start her menstrual cycle until she was 30 years old because of her addictive training. She ran with foot fractures for years.
Diane made a film called, Beauty Mark. The film examines:
*Diane’s own story.
*How our families and society influence our weight and body “standards”.
*When working out actually makes us sicker instead of healthier.
*Interviews with other exercise bulimic athletes.
I went to the Estes Park Film Festival and saw Beauty Mark on Sunday. There are so many take home discussion points in this film. The teacher part of me wants to show this 75 minute film in a Body Image Class and then spend the next two hours breaking it down in a group discussion. It’s full of rich, raw revelations about how we portray and objectify beauty in this culture.
One scene that stayed with me was watching a former Colorado Body Building Champion teach a spinning class in Boulder. Her body is incredibly sculpted, thin and toned, yet the emotional pain and tears in her eyes brought tears to my eyes as she spoke. She hates her body! She abuses herself with extreme exercise every single day. This becomes a slippery slope because unlike other addictions; compulsive, regimented exercise is glorified and honored in our culture.
Diane Israel did a great job exposing the sociological, psychological, and family links behind body image, addiction, obsession, control, abuse, and perfection. After the film Diane was there in person to take Q&A from the audience. She is now a psychotherapist in Boulder and is still on her own healing journey. She gave us all a Beauty Mark Rock.
Instead of assessing people by “how thin they look”or “how pretty they are” she challenged us to look for the beauty in what people say and do! When we witness authentic internal beauty she encouraged us to pass our rock onto that person. It “marks” and lays claim to the real beauty in the world.
This is one of those movies that a college student could spend 20 pages analyzing. I encourage health educators, personal trainers, and anyone who struggles with body issues or addiction tendencies to watch this movie. Surprisingly, it’s the first of its kind. In my opinion it’s a very important contribution to the fitness world, addiction studies and behavioral psychology.
To listen to the NPR interview that piqued my interest in the film, scroll down to Tuesday September 9Th, then click on Boulder Filmmaker Explores Compulsive Exercise and Body Image
Click here to watch the trailer for the Beauty Mark movie. DVDs will be available on the Beauty Mark website soon!
For more information on Diane, the film and an abundance of resources on eating disorders go directly to the Beauty Mark website.