Eating Disorder Services: "MIRROR" Print Ad by Clemenger BBDO Wellington

Eating Disorder Services: “MIRROR” Print Ad by Clemenger BBDO Wellington 

Believing is Seeing.  What are your beliefs showing you?

A quiet killer, often hidden by baggy clothes and popularly supported in the dark recesses of the internet.  An addiction to being thin at any cost, even their lives.  When the line to good judgement has been blurred, the spiral begins.  This is an illness that has created a community that doesn’t help each other get better.  Instead, they help each other get sicker.

Antonia Eriksson has traveled this path herself and is recovering.  Her opinion of thinsperational accounts is clear.

“They’re really dangerous,” she says.  Eriksson is now in recovery from anorexia, and runs an Instagram account and blog focused on fitness and healthy eating. But back then, she was easily triggered into unhealthy behaviour by those images. “It would help me in my eating disorder, like in the most negative way… It would keep me sick,” she says.

via Pro-anorexia, bulimia communities thriving online – Health – CBC News.

I’d like to say this trend comes as a surprise, or that I’d never even heard of such a thing but of course that’s not the case.    I worry about my own children and their self image and how these sites and associated hashtags influence them. Trying on a pair of skinny jeans the other day my daughter lamented, “But my calves are too fat!”   She is in perfect physical shape and size for her body.  I reminded her that she’s just fine.  The jeans were just made for a different body.  Let’s face it the very nature of skinny jeans is a challenge.  It was obvious her first thought wasn’t that the jeans were wrong, it was that her body was wrong.

On one hand, when it comes to “thinspiration”,   it seems obvious that anyone with “half a brain” would “know better”.  But that’s not really what it’s all about after all. Whether a person is spiralling into a gloomy pit from an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, OCD, schizophrenia, PTSD or abuse there is one thing that everyone has in common.  They’ve crossed a line from the reality of  “normal” most of us know to a reality the rest of us don’t share. You would think they should be able to simply step back over that line but it doesn’t work that way.  Slipping over the line to illness seems so easy, but taking that one step back sometimes feels impossible.  Spoiler alert – it might be the biggest challenge you face in life but it isn’t impossible.

These thinspo accounts are like putting a line of coke in front of an addict, it’s fills the need and there is almost no way that the addict will be able to resist on their own, at least not for long. In my opinion this is like an unrecovered alcoholic being the sponsor for another alcoholic.  Pretty much doomed to failure.  Instead of helping each other they are actually encouraging and empowering each other to continue the spiral into the disease.

The good news is that I see more and more sites and resources that are dealing with recovery, self care and hope. Healthy is in, skinny is out.  Unless of course you are naturally skinny, which some people are.  Then rock it and love it.

I’m glad that many social media sites are trying to make things better.

Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest have also attempted to circumvent users’ access to material that promotes self-harm. -CBC article

Dr. Rebecka Peebles, co-director of the Eating Disorder Assessment and Treatment Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia… found that nearly 40 per cent of the sites included pro-recovery information. Many of the troubling Instagram posts also include pro-recovery tags: #EDrecovery, #ANAwarrior, #BeatANA.  She believes that reflects the nature of the disease. “Part of you wants to get better, and part of you wants to stay sick.” – CBC Article

We all know that there are different body types.  Within each type there is an infinite number of slightly different shapes and sizes.  They are normal.  They are healthy.  They are beautiful.  Instead of embracing this fact, we watch the photoshopped ads, the models that have countless groomers and preeners fawning over them, that have been selected because they have this very specific body type.  And don’t kid yourself, even though they are “perfect” in our eyes, the industry tells them they aren’t quite good enough, they have the same qualms and self doubts as all of us “average” girls (and guys) out there.

Don’t ever fool yourself that any of these images are put out there because big business really cares about you.  They care almost exclusively about making money.  Really, most of them don’t care at all about you.  I mean honestly, not at all.  Those ads with all those beautiful people are meant to do one thing.  Get money from you.  Period.  They don’t care if you become prettier, smarter, fatter, skinnier, healthier even if their fake smiles seem to say otherwise.

We all have our moments, or maybe lifetimes, of wishing “something” was different about us or our lives.  No one is completely immune.  Unless.

Unless you make the conscious choice to begin loving yourself AS YOU ARE TODAY.  With all your perfection and all your flaws (which by the way, are almost always your own opinion).

We are all perfectly imperfect.  Quit fighting it!  It’s a battle you will never win, and were never meant to.

No matter what you do, unless you can love yourself (or at least like yourself) as you are, nothing you do will satisfy you for long.  You will always come from a place of lack.  You don’t have to.  Just start seeing your own good, your own beauty little by little.  Trust that it’s there and you’ll find it.

I really do recommend taking time every single day to look at yourself and tell yourself you love you!  Find the little things that you can love.  Maybe it’s your smile, or a dimple, or the way your one eyebrow raises when you smile. Maybe it’s how you can make your mother laugh or your little sister asks for your help.

Like any addict, or someone with a habit that needs breaking, do it one step at a time.  And don’t beat yourself up for every single little misstep.  Work to stop following the propaganda and start following things that inspire you and give you hope to be all you can really be.  Ask for help.  Then ask again, and again and again.  Do not give up.  Be kind to yourself and others.  It’s a start, and that’s what has to happen first.  A start.  A very simple start.

Life and love are so much more than thigh gap, or protruding bones, or the vision of outer beauty.  

If that’s all you can focus on right now you are missing out on so much, actually all the wonderful awesome stuff. Need help?  That’s ok.  Recognizing it is the first step.  We all need help for something at sometime.  Don’t give up.  Keep looking, keep trying.

If you are overweight an unhealthy amount, and I do mean unhealthy, not your own jaded opinion, then yes, do something positive and constructive to move yourself to a place of health.  But do it because you love yourself and you are worth it.  And if you don’t believe that right now it’s ok.  Believe me.  You are worth it.  Change your focus from one of controlling yourself and your weight to one of loving yourself and working together with your body towards wonderful health.

If you still need some convincing, I encourage you to listen to Maya Angelou explain and read her poem “Still I Rise”. Never doubt, that you too can say, “Still I rise.”

Eriksson was once an #ANAwarrior. She started an Instagram account, which has since grown to nearly 40,000 followers, the day before she was hospitalized to document her six-week in-hospital treatment and recovery.

What she calls her Instagram family helped motivate her recovery. “I wanted to show them that it was possible,” she says. “So I just kept fighting it.” – CBC article

As Eriksson reminds us,  it is possible.  Don’t give up.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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