Eating Disorder Recovery: dealing with negative cultural messages
- Category: Culture and Media
Recovery from an eating disorder is difficult, arduous and requires commitment as well as time and resources.
Add to that the challenge of rising up from under the barrage of cultural forces that encourage eating disorder symptoms. Then you get a glimpse of the courage and stability required to make healthy choices regardless of cultural messages.
If you are healthy you eat and drink what supports your life. You weigh the amount that allows you to be healthy, flexible, and strong, bear children and live long.
You wear what feels and looks good to you and does not cause your body harm. You use your resources (like time, money, energy) in ways that sustain your life. You do not deplete your reserves and create anxiety by living beyond your means.
Finally, you invest yourself with full commitment into a life that honors your heart, your soul, your talents and gifts to live your life your way based on your authentic self.
In a life like that, contrary to many cultural dictates to women, an eating disorder cannot exist.
Challenging Negative Cultural Messages
To live well we all need to be able to sort through the unhealthy messages that are part of our culture. We are told to buy things we don’t want or need. We are told to look a certain way which encourages us to buy products and services regardless of health consequences.
We are told to borrow so we can pay for products and services with money we don’t have. We are told what to want and how to look like what someone else wants regardless of our genuine personal values and beliefs.
If we can be aware of the negativity and recognize it when it comes at us in blatant and subtle forms, we can keep our wits about us and say "No" to these offers. Or better yet, we can disregard them.
Vulnerability to Negative Messages
What makes us vulnerable to negative messages? Why would we say yes to something harmful to us?
If we are lonely, frightened, insecure, laden with self-doubt mixed with naiveté we may succumb to exploitive cultural messages in hopes that a yes will bring us a chance at elusive happiness and shore up our insecurities.
If you have an eating disorder, you have succumbed far more than you realize because the eating disorder creates a distortion in your thinking and perception. You will recognize negative cultural messages as positives because they agree with the dictates of your eating disorder, not your heart and soul.
You will be living a life dictated by cultural messages supported by economics and power rather than by the values of your authentic self.
The way to empower yourself so you can sort through the negativity and honor your body, mind and soul is to do everything in your power to support the health of your entire being.
It's a never ending task that, with practice, can become as ordinary and natural as breathing. You then protect yourself not only from falling into an eating disorder. You give yourself the opportunity, every day, to llive a life worth living.