The effects of a culture focused on thinness
In this series of blog posts, we continue to work our way through Carolyn Costin & Gwen Schubert Grabb's book 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder Workbook.
In Key Three: It's Not About The Food, one of the assignments asks you to look at the effects that the cultural focus on thinness has had on you. It is a chance to explore the way in which our environment has changed and shaped the way we feel about our bodies, and our behaviours. We can't always control our environment, but being aware of the messages and how they affect us can help us in our recovery journey.
Here is what Kristie experienced...
What have you seen in movies or on television that affects how you feel about your body and your eating behaviour?
There is so much in movies and on television that can affect how someone feels about their body. It is everywhere and to be honest movies and TV don't hold a lot of interest for me since I've recovered. I guess I see it as a form of 'anti sizeism' by refusing to be marketed to on 'cultural norms' which are anything but normal. The way I approach it now is when I see someone cast in a culturally normative light in relation to food or eating behaviour, I see it as confirmation that Western culture has a long way to go in healing from the values and norms they have adopted.
How do friends or co-workers who diet, complain about, and compare bodies influence you?
I choose not to hang around those people. Seriously! I have changed friends and ended relationships because of our differences in values. It might sound extreme but for me what fuels me every day is helping society heal from the dangerous culture and values we have. That same culture and values nearly killed me and it would be remiss of me to just walk away from being recovered without putting back a hand to help others on the path behind me. I enjoy talking about Health at Every Size concepts as well as two of the books that rocked my world around sizeism - 'the Obesity Myth' and 'the Obesity Paradox'. Game changing!
What is your history of dieting, and how has it worked for you or against you?
I dieted, had disordered eating or an eating disorder from at least the age of 14 until I recovered at 28. It felt like I went to prison for 14 years in my mind. I felt like I had a 'master' and that I was their slave. Sure, I liked the accolades I got for my body but the truth is, I like my recovered body more than I ever liked my disordered body...because I don't have to do anything to have this body, I just have to wake up in the morning! Liking my disordered body was always conditional, which meant I was never at peace, always on edge, calculating and planning my food and exercise.
That finishes off our conversation with Kristie on the effects of a culture focused on thinness.
Next week, we move onto Key Four: Feel Your Feeling, Challenge Your Thoughts.