My Story on recovering in a Toxic World with Pretty Little Liars; Recovering from an eating disorder in a beauty obsessed world is without a doubt one of the most trying journeys I’ve ever walked and continue to face on a daily basis.
There are many misconceptions out there about eating disorders. The most damaging is the perception that they are about vanity or a trendy lifestyle. You can’t “just get over” it. It’s a complex mental health illness. It is not about food and diets, these are the symptoms of the underlying causes of disease. People with eating disorders don’t have a “certain look, weight or appearance. As someone who has personally suffered from bulimia and binge eating disorder I can assure you that it was not something I chose for myself. I personally find these trivializations to be demeaning and hurtful. I know first-hand the emotional suffering I have experienced living with and now recovering from this life-threatening disease. Eating disorders are rooted in loss of control, anxiety, anger, loneliness unworthiness and the need for perfection. Focusing on one’s body and food provides a coping mechanism to avoid emotions that are painful.
Recovery is about self-respect, self-acceptance, learning to be at peace with yourself and your body and that your intrinsic value is not determined by a number on a scale. Yet our society continues to accept the glorification of thinness that validates this core belief that eating disorder sufferers have about themselves and perpetuates their struggle with this disease. The person who is in recovery from an eating disorder is constantly confronted by messages that their happiness, value, and self-worth will all be resolved if only they were thin and pretty enough. Work in the toxic perception that a woman’s worth is determined by her appearance and the size of her body; The road required to finish this journey is a difficult one to follow.
“To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves- there lays the great, the singular power of self-respect”. –Joan Didion
Fashion and media promotes an unrealistic ideal so you compare yourself to their creations in order to promote shame and neediness inside of you. The aim is to make you look in the mirror and say “I am not good enough”. These unrealistic ideals have us constantly at war with our bodies and our appearance. At the same time you get a mixed message by being told to take care of yourself and be who you are but always with an underlying message that you need to look like this – a recipe for disaster! As a society we have bought into the ideal image being sold to us and have become critical of people who do not conform to these ideals.
As I continue to recover from my eating disorder, I have found ways that work for me to filter and dilute the shame-based marketing. First and most importantly I bring my focus back to what my inner values are and what is important to me! I focus on seeing the positive things about myself such as I am intelligent, kind, outspoken, creative, strong and vulnerable at the same time. I refuse to engage in any conversations that revolve around bashing myself or others based upon a made up perception of my appearance not conforming to the idea that beauty and thinness somehow equates my value and worth as a woman.
When I look back on my life and if I’m honest with myself I never cared or thought about weight, appearance, and food. However, at an impressionable age I was taught by those around me that I was supposed to care and should be concerned about them. By being force-fed that these shallow and insignificant characteristics were what mattered and were in fact the truth, I learned how to judge myself in those terms. To unlearn this behavior I now actively listen to the messages being presented to me instead of subconsciously absorbing those Pretty Little Liars.
Thanks for the support and love 🙂 Your REglam Team xx