Friday, July 1, 2011

Some (more) thoughts on body image and healthy goal weights

note: All of the statistics that I will be mentioning today are from the National Associaton of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. 

As many of you know, I have a personal history with disordered eating.  I have had an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise for almost a decade now. 

While I've recovered from EDNOS (my official diagnosis years ago, because I met all criterea for anorexia except for being underweight, and that's by BMI's standards, mind you) for years now, I still have a tendency to obsess about what I'm eating.

It makes me sad to know how NOT ALONE I am in this.  I wish that there weren't so many people who are currently suffereing or have suffered from an eating disorder. 

Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder)
in the U.S.

I think that the "fat" image she sees looks pretty thin and beautiful!
[image source]

That's a pretty big number.  That one doesn't surprise me or sadden me nearly as much as this one:

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.

[image source]

Over one half???  Nearly one third???  REALLY??? 

The pressure to be thin astounds me.  And I still feel the pressure myself sometimes, unfortunately. 
The only thing that I can do to help these teens is to be a good role model.  I quit smoking, I recovered from an eating disorder, I lost weight in a healthy way with good eating and moderate exercise.  I don't constantly talk about food and my body.  (Yes, I do on this blog, but that's because this is a healthy living blog!)

What are you doing to be a good role model for children who may be susceptable to eating disorders?

Here's one that I still need to keep myself in check about:

The body type portrayed in advertising as the ideal is possessed naturally by only 5% of American females.

Yes, I used Sarah Michelle Gellar as an example, because
I used to strive for a body like hers.
[image source]

5 % of American women have the natural ability to look like Sarah Michelle Gellar or Alyssa Milano (I use examples of skinny and beautiful actresses from two of my favorite TV shows).

The rest of us are NOT MEANT TO BE THAT SKINNY.  End of story.

We do have some options:

1) Spend the rest of our lives trying to get there, or

2) Accept our bodies. 

I say that we go for option #2.  What do you think?


Mariebop said...

Thanks for these stats, Leah! I'll go for option #2 with you. Obviously, it's something I'm learning.. hence my 'kini this year. :P

Megan said...

Great post Leah! It's so scary to realize how many people have had or do have, an eating disorder! It's ridiculous how many "role models" and celebrities we put as our idols, but really, our bodies aren't made like that. It's the same thing with hair. I have curly hair, and I could never get a hair cut like yours because I have different hair. Women (and men) need to see that bodies aren't the same and you can't compare yourself to someone else. Accept who you are.

melissa said...

wow, that first picture is frightening! i bet that's how most women see themselves- a good 20 lbs more than they are. the girl in the mirror is GORGEOUS!

it's so easy to lose sight of the reason for weight loss- to be healthier! not skinny.

LabelSnob said...

Ah, Leah, I really needed to read this post today! YES-we need to ACCEPT our bodies as they are! And not strive to be thin like the models in mags or actresses on TV!
I have to remember that statistic that only 5% of women have the natural ability to look like that! It's just not possible for everyone!
Have a great weekend!

Cyn said...

I am 41 and STILL struggle with these issues ...

This is SUCH an important message that I hope to instill in ALL of my children (sons included) and I will do so by leading by example!

AMAZING post Leah -- thanks for sharing and reminding us...

Jill said...

GREAT post! I am 41 and still working on this. I have an 11 year old daughter and I am super sensitive about the words I use in the house. In our home we really try to focus on health being the reason we eat healthy. Not about being fat or overweight. I try to be a role model by living a healthy life style. Exercise and limiting my indulgences- not depriving myself- but moderation. I hope my efforts pay off and my daughter does not struggle with weight related issues and self esteem issues as i did.

Julia @ The Bosky Blog said...

Great post L!

I hate to admit that even now I may practice some unhealthy eating habits, i.e. skipping meals.

It is a very very fine line between disordered and healthy during weight loss. Even some of the most highly elevated weight loss bloggers are defamed for allegations of disordered eating (like healthy tipping point).

We have such an obligation to present ourselves honestly, and be a role model if we put ourselves out there on the internerds. Which is where the guilt sets in for me, I am at a healthy BMI and yet continue to degrade myself due the number on the scale.

I am really working hard on loving myself.

Thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leah!

I found your blog via Ashley and I'm loving the insight!