As you can imagine, I speak with a lot of women in my role as a bulimia recovery coach.
Two things I commonly hear are:
- “I want to break free from bulimia but I can’t”.
- “I’m scared there’s something wrong with me”.
These statements sadden me because they’re not true. That’s because there are other factors at play that draw women towards bulimia and then keep them trapped.
If you suffer from bulimia I’m not suggesting you can relinquish all responsibility for your eating disorder. That would not help you to recover. BUT I do believe it’s incredibly beneficial to take a fresh look at your situation and challenge some of the outside factors that influence you.
And in this blog I’m going to reveal one of the most powerful one…
How the media creates a slippery slope to bulimia
Near the top of my list of negative influencing factors is the media.
When working with clients I encourage them to become aware and then take a different view of the subtle messages the popular media convey. Magazines, TV, billboard advertising and even social media are hard at work subtly, yet significantly influencing your perception of you and your body.
The fashion and beauty industry are constantly streaming images of thin, beautiful women who seem to have it all. The problem is most women don’t have the “perfect” body shape promoted by the airbrushed models. And even if we understand logically this perfection is fake, many people still feel uneasy when they decide they don’t match up.
But uneasiness is just the start of it. There’s also a pervading cultural belief that says if you’re not body perfect, you’re not good enough and you need fixing.
And I see the end result of this belief when I speak with normal weight women who started purging because they felt fat and undesirable. It seems there’s a growing trend of weight-conscious individuals seeking solutions including endless fad diets, slimming pills and more drastic measures such as surgery and even bulimia in an attempt to look good so they can feel great.
The goalposts constantly shift
But the media are brutal.
They forever change tact and direction as fashions move on and new celebrities become the next hot thing to emulate. This can leave people confused and disappointed as they try to achieve a goal that will always be out of their reach. The emotional impact of this failure can be devastating as more and more women are left increasingly dissatisfied with their body shape which in turn erodes their confidence and self-esteem.
The media is full of mixed messages
This pressure to be perfect is constantly played out in the media. One minute a super model is being celebrated for her figure, the next she’s too fat and the next she’s too skinny.
Just recently I read about the re-emergence of the “super-skinny” trend. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and even Lady Gaga have shed their curves and replaced them with “thigh gaps, razor ribs, concave chests and child-sized bodies”.
Are these malnourished bodies really beautiful?
Another example is Kate Moss. I was shocked to read an article in Look magazine discussing the criticism she’d received about her recent weight gain on social media and in the newspapers. Here are some examples as reported by the magazine.
“Kate Moss: the end of an era”.
“Kate has a beer belly”.
Here’s one of the UK’s most successful supermodels being criticised about her weight.
Seriously. Does she really look fat?
But it’s just this sort of irresponsible judgements that get women engaged in damaging conversations about their own bodies.
After all if Kate Moss is defined as fat (when she absolutely isn’t) what does that mean for the majority of us? It’s no surprise these powerful messages can get people feeling inadequate, thinking about dieting – even when they don’t need to.
Be wary how these messages influence your choices
For sure you can choose to ignore what the magazines say. But let’s face it. It can be hard to do that when there’s such a persistent cultural belief that thin is beautiful and desirable whilst fat (that’s any type of fat) is bad.
This pervasive cultural belief has been bleeding slowly into our culture since the 1950s becoming hard wired into our psyche with the parameters becoming increasingly limited.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing “if only you were a thinner your life would be so much better…” And with so many diet options and weight-loss solutions available coupled with the fact that dieting has become a socially acceptable, normalised lifestyle choice you almost feel compelled to do what you can to stay thin.
Don’t allow society to seize your power
I say it’s time to stand up to the body bullies and challenge their right to define beauty. Surely we’re more than this “one-size-fits-all” superficial definition of beauty?
And the way to do that is to reclaim the real you.
And it’s possible when you shift your perception of what’s beautiful. Instead of striving to achieve what you see in the media by trying to fix your perceived flaws, turn inwards, and discover who you truly are.
And most importantly it’s time to STOP dieting and allowing your life to be controlled by food. ( Click – Are Your Dieting Strategies Killing You? – to get your free copy of my eBook for more details).
You see there’s freedom to be found in loving yourself for who you are and accepting your body as beautiful. That’s because when you do this, instead of allowing someone else to validate you (for example the media), you reclaim your control and power. It’s a truly liberating experience.
Create a life you love
I spent over 17 years living a life that was defined by how I looked. My fear of getting fat caused food to become my enemy and my straightjacket. Under the influence of bulimia I lost my joy for life.
I do take full responsibility for my destination but I’m certain the media and society also played a role. But now I’m free.
And my premium 1-2-1 coaching programme can help you become free from bulimia too.
But what do you think? I’d love to know your views and opinions about the role the media plays in our obsession with beauty and weight so please leave a comment below.
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 30 years ago and now mentors and coaches others to bulimia freedom. She is a compassionate, caring bulimia recovery coach who brings a unique and powerful perspective on recovery that has helped people from all walks of life, not just stop bingeing and purging but learn how to love themselves and their bodies and create a life they love.