As you may have noticed, I care deeply about body image and beauty issues. Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so now seems like a good time to talk about the more personal side of what these issues mean to me. I used to have an actual eating disorder and still have a hard time with disordered eating. Some of you, especially those that know me in person, may think that I'm overstating the fact. I don't mind that. Those of you out there who have dealt with disordered eating know that one of the things about it that is most dangerous is that it can look normal, or simply quirky. If you haven't dealt with it, you can't see it - it's sort of like trying to understand someone who has obsessive compulsive disorder when you don't have it yourself.
I'm not alone, you know. In my particular case it's tied very strongly to anxiety, and I take anti-anxiety medication partially to help me stay healthy. (P.S. While my loved ones know about the medication, they are finding out with the rest of you that this is part of why I take it. Confession Friday, apparently.) According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 women suffers from an eating disorder or disordered eating. 50,000 people will eventually die from it.
That pisses me off. Really. 80% of children have been on a diet by the time they're in the fourth grade. When you put that up against the OMGFATFATFAT fear of people like Meme Roth (the founder of National Action Against Obesity), there is no surprise that you end up with people like me.
We're shown models who are, on average, 5'11" and 110-120 lbs. We're told over and over again that being fat will kill us. Even as an intelligent adult woman, I have a hard time parsing a message out of those statements that isn't, "be skinnier right now, Fatty McFatterson". How are children, teenagers, and young adults supposed to do any better?
Other than National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, this is on my mind because I gained some weight while I was in Portland. Not a lot, but enough to freak me out. I have to be careful to be calm about it, you guys, and I want you all to be careful and calm too - not about me, of course, but about yourselves. You are gorgeous, and I am too.
I'm considering throwing out my scale and replacing it with this scale that has the words lovely, hot, perfect, fine, etc instead of weights. Because, yay.
Update: If there was ever a post in which to post the 'license to eat whatever you want' from Shapely Prose, it's this one.