This project is meant to break misleading stereotypes about people with eating disorders (such as bulimia and anorexia nervosa), and to spread awareness about the danger of these disorders. It also discribes the actual experiences and therefore, aims to help people with eating disorders to reveal their problems, to talk to experts or their loved ones instead of hiding it inside until it is too late.
Capstone Project, DePaul University, School of Design.
The purpose of the project is to show major factors that affect the development of eating disorders nowadays, to educate about these eating disorders and “symptoms”, and to inspire people to share their own stories they were ashamed of before. All information is based on the 5-months research, and a 4-year personal experience
The zine has a lot of visual distortion and glitch images. I wanted to show the mood of people with eating disorders, to convey their experience. There are a lot of confusing thoughts that a person experiences while suffering from the disorder, or going through the process of recovery. Distortion and glitch also represent how everything can be easily damaged: from a digital image, to a whole personality. The process involved me taking screenshots, pictures, writing words, and experimenting with them based on my emotions and thoughts I have been experiencing. In addition, for some graphics, I asked other people with eating disorder about their feelings and emotions. It helped me to develop a vidual direction and represent the mood.
Instagram turns out to be very harmful because it plays a big role nowadays in the development of eating disorders. For the research, I have created a fake Instagram profile without any bio, and followed a lot of profiles that used hashtags, such as #proana, #anorexia, #bulimia, #anabuddy, #thinkingthin, #promia, #thighgap, etc. Interesting fact–searching for some of these tags, you will receive a pop-up message from Instagram, which says, “Can We Help? Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that cause harm and even lead to death. If you are going through something difficult, we’d like to help.” Options to click on: “Get Support”, “See Posts Anyway”, “Cancel”. This fact shows that Instagram acknowledges the existing problem of forming communities promoting unhealthy behaviors and eating disorders. Yet, this pop-up message doesn’t make a huge difference–it’s always easy to click “Cancel” and forget about that little window. There are many virtual communities forming, and women of different ages discuss extremely skinny bodies that they and others post, support each other in hating food and their own bodies, and being afraid of fat. These communities became surprisingly large, but most of the girls who relate to them are hiding the problems in their real lives.
Families and friends often have no idea what is going on, and, even if the girl/woman realizes she is in trouble, cannot control herself anymore, she usually doesn’t talk to other people.
Instagram is harmful in a way that we constantly compare ourselves to others, which often leads to a distortion of the body image and perception, creation of an “ideal” and “perfect” body shape in our heads and imagination, and therefore, the development of body dysmorphia. The belief that others take special notice of our appearance in a negative way forces many women to use photo editing tools that allow to change body and face shape in several minutes. Yet not a lot of people take this into account while looking at photos and comparing themselves to others. People create their digital selves that may be very different from their real selves.
There are a lot of existing campaigns promoting body positivity. They aim to inspire women to love themselves, their bodies. Yet they are mostly commercial, created by the brands to attract more audience and sometimes to build their brand story and characteristics, which makes it unattractive for many people (because we are used to the fact that advertisements lie often). This project does not have a form of a campaign, although the research od the existing content helped to choose what to focus on. Campaigns barely talk about the details, describe diseases, explore influencers.
Concept Development & Design
Based on the research I did, I started exploring the ways I can send my message to people. I was brainstorming a lot, thinking about making a website, an app, a series of 3D prints, a zine, a book, and a series of posters. I decided to focus on the zine and the research emotional video, because these media work great for spreading awareness about the issue.
3D Printing explorations
I used 3D printer and 3D software as a tool for converting digital objects to physical in order to explore the connection between the media. The parallel is that 3D prints do not look exactly like objects on the screen, and there is always a chance that a print will fail.
All designers know that Helvetica is overused and we try to avoid using this typeface for our projects. Yet, it is also considered as a “perfect” typeface by some people. I decided to use Helvetica because the current perception of this typeface correlates with the issue I am talking about in the zine. Perfection does not exist, and we build the “ideals” ourselves. If you want to be unique, be yourself, highlight your inner qualities first. The same happens to the use of typeface–it is OK to use Helvetica if you want to. The most important thing is the content, and
Helvetica is good enough for the content to be easily readable, and bold enough for the important information to be highlighted.
The secondary typeface I have used for some quotes was Caslon Pro Bold. Caslon Pro is designed by a woman, Carol Twombly, based on the original Caslon that was designed in early 18th century. I use a serif typeface to show the contrast in everything–it is good when everything is different. It keeps us engaged and interested. It is good when bodies are different in the same way–each person is individual.