we turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us not to need
– Marya Hornbacher,
February 26-March 4, 2017 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
So let’s spread some awareness.
- In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life
- By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape
- 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.
- There has been a rise in incidence of anorexia in young women 15-19 in each decade since 1930
- The prevalence of eating disorders is similar among Non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, African–Americans, and Asians in the United States, with the exception that anorexia nervosa is more common among Non-Hispanic Whites
- 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets
- Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
As many of you already know, I struggled with an eating disorder in my early twenties. I’ve written about this very publicly in my book, For Her. So these facts-these statistics- hit a very raw place inside of me.
I do consider myself in a healthy place. Do I never struggle with body image? Let’s be real. I am a woman living in 2017. I am faced with a media that shames me, tries to make me feel insignificant, trains me to be flaw focused, and overall works hard to make me not love myself. Buy this, wear this, lose this, gain this, etc. I still struggle. But I am dedicated to loving myself, even when I don’t feel like I love what I see.
I think back to my childhood, my teenage years, and even my early twenties. And I am sad. Sad for the years of detesting my body, my hair, my everything.
I came across the image below on the internet one day and it spoke leaps and bounds to me. (side note: do not know the source; if you do, holla at me and I will give credit!). This image represents how I felt about myself as a little girl and even into my young adult life. What kind of a world are we raising our little girls and boys in when all they want is to not be/look/feel like they do?? My heart. It hurts.
Eating disorders are not gender, age, or geographically limited. This is an inclusive monster. Remember that.
So what now??
First, let me speak to anyone out there that is currently struggling with an eating disorder. Please know that you are worthy and beautiful as you are in this moment. Please know that there is help. And I know it is fucking terrifying to get help. When I finally sought out therapy (which saved my life), I sobbed in the waiting room before almost bailing. Friends, you deserve help. You deserve love and health. No matter who you are or where you are in the world, there is help out there for you. Please click here and take the first step.
My goal in writing this piece is not only to spread the raw, painful reality of eating disorders, but also to spread the body posi LOVE!
Here are some of my favorite social media accounts that I go to for some body posi loving:
I also created an entire board on my personal Pinterest dedicated to body positivity and self love. Check it out. And send me more pins you find that also spread the love!
I also get teased sometimes because I love me a selfie. But I have come to believe that a selfie is an act of self-love. To be able to take a photo of myself and love what I see or teach myself to do so if I don’t instinctively, is empowering. It is liberating. It’s fucking radical.
Below is a photo of me in Budapest, Hungary. I had walked miles that day exploring the city, trying to find a SIM card, and trying to find my AirBnB. I had also been in Ireland for the week before this photo was taken; I walked so much in Ireland that I almost lost my two big toenails (grody, I know). My point being: when I see the photo below, I see a body that carried me across the world, explored two countries by foot, and still looks damn cute. Years ago, I would have hated this photo. Do I look too “soft?” Look at my little belly poking out (I actually find it adorable)…what will people think? Blah Blah Blah. For me- taking a selfie is an act of self love. I am so sick of people calling women that love taking selfies of themselves “self-obsessed.” GOD FORBID WE MANAGE TO FALL IN LOVE WITH OURSELVES IN A WORLD THAT TAUGHT US NOT TO. That is radical. Self-love is truly a radical concept. So LET US BE. Love us, as we learn to love ourselves.
After you’re finished reading this, go in the mirror and start listing off things you love about yourself. Can’t think of anything? I call bullshit. Send me a message and I WILL tell you why you’re beautiful. Also, let’s remember that beauty is not only skin deep. I think it is important to love and cherish our physical beauty while SIMULTANEOUSLY remembering that we are so much more.
Love yourself. Help others love themselves.
Spread peace and body posi love.We all need it.