Cultivating Body Positivity to Combat Anorexia Nervosa

It’s likely that we all know someone that never seems to be happy with their body. This person is almost always dieting, obsessing over calories, and striving to reach unrealistic beauty ideals. Taken to extremes, this type of behavior often leads to anorexia.

Taking Note of Unrealistic Beauty Standards

Beauty standards in the United States are typically of the super-model variety. The concept that all bodies should be tall, thin, and airbrushed smooth without flaws or imperfections is pervasive in American culture. This sets impossible to reach expectations for the vast majority of population, but the trend persists and is evident in nearly every part of our lives.

The next time you are scrolling through your favorite social media platform take a minute to count how many ads are directed toward weight loss, fitness regiments, “cleanses” and other health driven marketing. The odds are high that you won’t have to scroll long to see how pervasive these subtle inferences that you can make your body conform to the ideal shape and size through diet and willpower are in our daily lives.

Changing Our Reflections

Today people are faced with not only the opinions of the people in their immediate vicinity, but as a result of social media, the world at large. This constant inundation of social critiquing takes a heavy toll on our collective self-esteem.

For young women, this barrage of strangers weighing in on everyday situations can become overwhelming and all too often leads to self-destructive tendencies cloaked in the disguise of fitness and health consciousness. Left unchecked these internalizations of public perceptions of the self can become excessively critical, and this distortion increases the susceptibility to eating disorders.

Psychiatric treatments of anorexia focus on total wellness; that is, creating a healthy balance of personal perception of self-image that results from proper diet, exercise, therapy and in some cases, medication. A strong support system has been proven to aid in recovery. Diagnosis and treatment of anorexia in any form requires medical and mental health testing and should be left to the professionals.

Signs of Anorexia or Bulimic Behaviors

What makes eating disorders so easy to miss is that most of the behaviors associated with the disease are commonly practiced, albeit on a less extreme scale, in nearly every facet of our daily lives. Crash diets, food eliminations, fasting, cleansing, and extreme exercise regimens are all warning signs of anorexic behaviors.

While purging through forced regurgitation is obvious, diuretics are easily obtained and less noticeable, making it easier for the bulimics to hide their extreme aversion to gaining even the smallest amount of weight. The same applies to fasting and fad diets; skipping meals regularly and eliminating entire food groups raises more alarms than quietly reducing meal sizes.

Be Compassionate

For those who suffer from eating disorders, kindness to self is a hard row to hoe. Practicing body positivity in our daily lives builds confidence and keeps us all healthier as a society.