After an unexpectedly heated response from someone on Instagram today, I felt the need to get my thoughts out. So, this is ranty. I’m not really sorry for that. I think this is a subject which merits frustration.
I simply do not understand why people who have recovered from a restrictive eating disorder need to post images of themselves at their very lowest weight on social media. Or share them with journalists. For a start, doing this contravenes the Beat media guidelines. We can’t really get angry when the media refuse to follow these, and then make the same mistake ourselves.
Also, recovery from any eating disorder involves a fundamental shift away from the focus on food, weight and the body. If you still place a huge emphasis upon physical appearance as a means of evaluating your self worth, I question how free you really are. The lines between ‘fitspo’ and ‘thinspo’ are extremely blurred. I am NOT saying, don’t be healthy, don’t work to improve your fitness, don’t care about your body. But there has to be some movement away from over-emphasis, towards balance. Or maybe that’s just my personal definition of things. Recovery is different for everyone, I get that it isn’t black and white.
Individual definitions aside, I still struggle to understand why, if you have lived for any length of time with the psychological confusion that is an eating disorder, managed to make your way out of this to a more settled place with yourself, your feelings, and even your body – why on EARTH would you want to do anything to make another person’s journey more difficult? Because this is what low weight images do. They tap into the comparison, the dismissive attitude, the tormenting self criticism of those trapped in a restrictive, self punishing mindset. They provide fuel for the ‘not good enough’, ‘not thin enough’, ‘not deserving enough’ taunts. Maybe people ‘on the other side’ lose sight of how painful that is? And speaking personally, low weight images really don’t bother me these days, but I suspect if I were fourteen and very unwell, they would.
Another thing I wonder, is why those with ED’s need ‘inspiration’ anyway? I get that eating disorders become fused with our identity in a way that is perhaps different to other mental health problems. I get that we need some clear, consistent motivation in order to begin to make changes. It is definitely comforting to see that others have walked that path and emerged from the process of recovery feeling more sure of themselves and more able to cope with life. I want to support others with the same battles as me, because I get how tough it can be. And it’s hard to understand if you’ve never experienced it. It’s hard to understand even if you have. But to hold yourself up as an ‘inspiration’ and build your identity from that? Why the need? I really don’t get it. Personally, my biggest role models are the family and friends who have a balanced, ‘normal’ relationship with food and a positive relationship with their body. That’s what I aspire to. Mental freedom, the ability to nourish my body and the energy and headspace to participate fully in life.
So before you post your half naked ‘transformation’ picture, have a little think.