Eating Disorder Awareness and Education

Today in my graduate class with Dr. Nancy Rudd, we discussed the risk of eating disorders and how to gain perspective. Most people know very basic facts about eating disorders, but I wanted to share even more that I learned that really opened my eyes and allowed me to gain more empathy for those with an ED.

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses associated with life threatening medical and psychiatric issues that can affect anyone, even children. The youngest person diagnosed with an ED was a 2 year old child. People with anorexia experience the highest fatality rates. But, over 60% of eating disorders are classified as EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified) in a clinical setting. This means that behaviors do not fit a specific disorder. Some extreme behaviors that we discussed were mind-boggling, but very real. Eating cotton balls, cosmetics, and hair so as not to consume calories was one of them. Our professor even helped find treatment for a 14 year old girl (5’2″) that was down to 60 pounds, ate one apple, and did 200 stair climbs per day.

The highest risk sports for developing an eating disorder are gymnastics and swimming for women, and wrestling and gymnastics for men. Among others at risk sports are ballet, ice skating, cross-country, and track and field. But, one does not have to be underweight nor an athlete to be suffering from a life-threatening eating disorders.

A problem of treatment providers when treating patients with an ED is that they don’t know what to treat first. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa include the “nervosa” component in the name because it suggests an obsessive compulsive behavior associated with the eating and exercising practices. So, does a treatment provider treat the malnourishment first? Or the obsessive behavior, or the depression and anxiety? I never even knew that all these destructive behaviors were a part of an eating disorder.

In summary, ALL eating disorders are dangerous. There is also no “look” to an ED. Check out NEDA for more information or call the help hotline at 800-931-2237.

CVS Takes a Stand Against Airbrushing Models

“We will not digitally alter or change a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles or other individual characteristics,” CVS said in a press release. The watermark with a heart will start appearing on beauty photos produced by CVS in this upcoming year, so be on the lookout.

Hmm. I have a lot of thoughts about this movement. I really love that CVS is promoting healthier body images by taking a stance against airbrushing and photoshopping models in their stores and print ads. It sends a great message to children because now the beauty standards portrayed by these ads will be attainable.

Although I love this idea, here is some food for thought. I am a pageant girl and have been in modeling for a while. I have had my photos edited to remove blemishes, smooth my skin, and adjust the lighting. I prefer these adjustments to my photos, especially because I am using them for pageant headshots that are sometimes judged. But how much editing is TOO much? How do we decide this? If you were in an advertisement for millions to see, would YOU want to be airbrushed? Or are you okay with everyone seeing your natural flaws?

It takes a brave model to proudly broadcast her full natural self to the world. I give these models and CVS credit for their courage! But what about Ulta, Sephora, and other major beauty brands? Will they follow suit, and are they embarrassed for not taking the initiative on this movement? I would be. What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below. 


#ENDBODYSHAMING, Please share!

A letter to anyone who has left a negative comment on any post about someone’s body:

Something to think about…when you’re commenting on other people’s bodies behind a computer screen, do you think that they think they’re perfect? News flash: they probably don’t. So we don’t need you pointing out the obvious. Common examples: “She NEEDS to lose some weight, that’s not attractive.” “She looks way too skinny to be 6 months pregnant.” “Wow, she looks SO unhealthy, she needs to eat a burger!!” …NOOOO, really?! I’m sure they had NO IDEA!

Let’s say this person you are commenting on IS unhealthy. YOU DON’T KNOW, WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW! The person you are tearing down may have a genetic predisposition, a medial condition, an eating disorder, or something else that we don’t know. Encouragement and inspiration is what gets a person to change their lifestyle if they choose to, NOT nasty or negative comments on a social media post. Posting pictures of your imperfect body is BRAVE in the first place. Another news flash: is any body actually perfect? Not really. It’s all just subject to opinion. Beauty comes in many forms and varies from culture to culture.

Ladies: If you only stand for some women, you stand for no women. Black, white, Latinx, Asian, pregnant, trans, thin, thick, educated, poor, etc. We cannot just pick and choose who we defend because THAT is discrimination. 

Don’t be a cyber bully. Stand up for others and set a positive example. It takes one person at a time to end body shaming. We all want to be confident in ourselves. KARMA.

PLEASE RESHARE FOR BODY SHAMING AWARENESS! This problem is REAL and continuously arising. Thank you.

Body Positive Accounts to Follow, Find your Body Role Model

Can you proudly scream to the world, “I LOVE MY BODY!!”? Not exactly? That’s okay, it’s a process of learning to accept our bodies no matter how they fluctuate and look. I hate to say it, but if the only accounts you follow are “fitspiration” and perfect proportioned women, you are doing yourself a disservice.

The best way to get a boost on our self confidence and do a reality check is by surrounding ourselves with people with diverse body shapes and sizes that are similar to the ones we currently possess. This helps to create a positive body image for ourselves. Whenever I read a caption from one of these accounts, I reevaluate how I see my body and it really helps me put my health and fitness goals into perspective. Find a body role model who embraces her body and looks similar to you! Here are some of my favorite and most encouraging people on Instagram that you should check out. Try to follow a woman with a similar lifestyle or look as you: 




@theashleygraham All for my sassy, plus sized girls

@arnayr / @missuniverseiceland For my pageant girls

@thesabinakarlsson For my freckly with unique features girls For ALL my girls

@mswheelchairusa For my girls with disabilities 

@butchwaxvintage For my girls with short hair, no hair, or who love vintage and unique clothes

This is super important for our mental health. I am a teaching assistant for a professor with 2 phD’s covering social psychology and fashion, so I’ve done LOTS of research on body image and how it is affected by the media.