Body Image Disease: Facts You Need to Know


Body image disease is a serious issue affecting women

Diets have become the new little black dress- fashionable, celebrity-backed and change each season. If you are juicing today, you might be on the Paleo diet tomorrow and you probably cut sugar six months ago. We are obsessed with our eating, our dieting, our weight and the batwings hanging around the back of our arms. Unfortunately, these obsessions paired with false Hollywood images of the “norm” have made us all unconfident, uncomfortable and blind to what we really look like. According to Dosomething.org, only about 5% of women have the natural body type portrayed in the media.

Body Image Disease

(image from thisisbeauty.org)

Recently I discovered the singer and poet Mary Lambert, who is also a soulful body image activist. Her spoken-word poetry entitled Body Love (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3f1zii5skA) is moving and I was shocked into belief by her line about “still wanting to be beautiful at the morgue” She urges us to “reclaim our bodies” and notes that “you are no less valuable at a size 16 than a size 4.” It’s about time we have more female artists speaking out against our unhealthy obsessions, rather than feeding ourselves lines like, “Do what you want with my body” (Lady Gaga, “Do what you want”). Personally I would rather have you do what I want with my body… just sayin’.

Body Image Disease

It’s lunacy to know that only 2% of women believe they are beautiful while 91% of women have tried dieting and report being unhappy with their bodies (Dosomething.org). Unfortunately there is no single culprit that is making us feel this way and we need to be accountable for our own damaging thoughts. While we can point to primetime, the glossy mags or Instagram’s array of ANA and thigh gap images, we are the consumers of such toxic thoughts and we drink it up like a kale and ginger smoothie.

Body Image Disease

In a generation that grew up with Mean Girls, “reality” TV and waif-like androgynous models, it is not surprising to know that 95% of women with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, and only around 10% of them will seek help from a professional. In this age range we decide who we are, what we want to be and what we stand for- don’t let that be an unhealthy interest in the caloric content of your gluten-free pasta. If you or your friends seem preoccupied with losing weight in an unhealthy manner (i.e.: binging, purging, starving, or severely limiting) seek help from an expert- nutritionists are your allies and will help you learn what to put in your body, what it does to your body and how to make your body a streamlined beautiful machine.

Body Image Disease

Body Dysmorphic Disorder may sound like Greek to you or vaguely like the flu for a transformer, but it is serious business and you may be suffering from this without realizing it. People with BDD have obsessive thoughts about their appearance and think about it for hours each day, analyzing each perceived flaw. They will not believe others when given compliments and their thoughts often lead to depression and anxiety, thus paralyzing them at times from normal fun-tastic activities. The saddest part for these sirens is how often the “flaw” is completely imagined, like a mirage in an angry mirror. If you think this sounds like you but are unsure, try this self-test: http://www.rhodeislandhospital.org/services/body-dysmorphic-disorder-program/questionnaires/screening-questionnaire-for-adults-do-I-have-BDD.html and seek advice from a professional.

Body Image Disease

Maybe I need to remind us all of the glamorous actress/model/queen in her own right Marilyn Monroe who said “To all the girls that think you are ugly because you are not a size 0, you’re the beautiful one. It’s society who is ugly.” I am not sure who came up with the size system, or why it will never be consistent across stores, generations or brands but it is time we take our sizes back and instead rank our jeans by “this fits,” “this is a bit snug so I better get my yoga pants” and “oh heck yeah I look good!”

Body Image Disease

If you need additional help with an eating disorder or body image issue, consider reaching out to friends and family or read more about this topic at womenshealth.gov/body-image, ourbodiesourselves.org, and thebodypositive.org. Most of the images in this article came from another fantastic site, Thisisbeauty.org who supports positive images of strong women- just like you!


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