A few years ago, I started to reconsider whether telling my personal story of recovery is productive to the effort to reduce the social stigma and shame that has been problematically linked to eating disorders.
Photo by Cooper Smith on Unsplash
Starting my recovery was the hardest decision I ever made, but I was thankful to have a supportive and trusting person by my side. My partner was the first person I ever opened up to about my eating disorder. Before them, like many, I was very secretive and ashamed of my disorder. Recently, that relationship has ended and as hard as it has been, re-entering the dating world has proven to be even more difficult.
In honor of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, I’d like to share with you the story of someone very important to me and why I recognize not only this day, but every other day, as a day to celebrate the inclusion of persons with disabilities. I must preface this blog with a “bear with me” as I am quite passionate about this subject and indebted to its content.
My brother was born with Cerebral Palsy.
From my own school experiences, I have found that there is much emphasis placed on healthy eating and weight control. I am sure you can think back to your own or your children's school experiences and pinpoint a time when 'healthy eating' and weight were discussed. In my case, the focus on weight and eliminating 'junk' food led me to become more entrenched in an eating disorder. So, how do schools 'prevent' EDs through their education programs? One article focused on just that: School-Based Interventions to Prevent Eating Problems: First Do No Harm.
“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Martin Luther
Hope is the driving force in our lives- it allows us to shine through the setbacks we may encounter down the tunnel. Hope is what shows us the light at the end of the tunnel and keeps it vibrantly lit.
One reason why eating disorders are so difficult to treat is because, in addition to addressing symptoms, you must first convince the patient that he or she is actually sick.
She might deny that she has any problem whatsoever with her eating habits and other behaviors. Or, even if she admits to struggling, she might insist that she is nowhere near as sick (i.e., as thin) as other patients.
A few years ago, after Nancy Vonk and I gave a speech at an event, Kate Cassaday, an editor from HarperCollins came up to us and said, “You’ve broken every rule of business to achieve success, and I think that’s a book.” We made some self-deprecating comment, joked a little and brushed off the offer with a breezy, “We’ll think about it”. In other words, we did what so many women do. Oh, we of little faith.
The relationship between body image pressure and eating disorders is complex. As a former competitive dancer, I experienced the most harmful and impactful messages through subtle means, rather than overt statements regarding my body and weight. When I was 10 and getting measured for my dance costumes, I had to wear a body suit with a giant number on the front indicating what size I was. That year, I needed one of the largest sizes in my class.
The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know is one of many books that examines the differences between men and women as presented in the corporate workforce – specifically, the ways women still lag behind men when it comes to confidence. Motherhood, lack of mentorship opportunities, socialization, and biology all may play a role in the underrepresentation of women at the highest levels of leadership. But what about the role that body image plays?