In continuing the “It’s Time to Talk about It” theme for Eating Disorder Awareness Week, I’d like to share an article about prevention.
1. Don’t diet. According to the experts at Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, dieting is the strongest eating disorder trigger there is. In fact, young women who go on low-calorie diets are 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than non-dieters. Just as shocking: Three of the strongest risk factors in the development of an eating disorder are a mother who diets, a sister who diets, or friends who diet.
2. Forbid teasing about body shape and size. People are sensitive to other people’s opinions. Even what seems like playful teasing—for instance, calling someone “bubble butt”—can wound a person’s self-esteem and even push her to diet away the offensive body part.
3. Praise people for who they are, not how they look. By emphasizing people’s talents and abilities, you send a powerful message that an individual’s soul and her accomplishments are more important than her face or body size.
4. Be comfortable in your skin. Use and enjoy your body for all the wonderful things it can do. Never criticize its shape or refuse to partake in an activity (such as swimming) because of its size or how it looks in a bathing suit. How you treat your own body sends a powerful message to young women regarding how to treat their own bodies.
5. Speak out against unrealistic media portrayals of women. Young women are so bombarded with images of surgically altered, airbrushed, and unnaturally thin women that they assume these images are how a normal woman should look. When you see such an image in a magazine, on a billboard, in an advertisement, on a website, on TV, or in a movie, say
something out loud. Start a dialogue. Get people thinking about what “normal” really is. Feeling energetic? Enlist a friend or daughter or other young woman to draft a letter to the offender.