In any discussion about the causes of bulimia, at some point the role of body image and the pressures placed on us by society’s definition of “beautiful” will factor into the conversation.
And I do think this discussion is relevant because somewhere along the way, we as a society have gotten lost.
You see, instead of admiring and celebrating the essence of who we are as people, we make shallow judgements and decisions based on what someone looks like.
It means on the one hand image is powerful – and on the other it’s entirely superficial.
What’s more, it means people with the “right” genetic make-up benefit, whilst the rest of us struggle to fit in by dieting, applying make-up or even resorting to surgery. Just take a look at any glossy magazine and you’ll see evidence of our on going struggle to “fix” the bits we don’t like as we strive to achieve the celebrated status of beautiful.
How you look can have a profound affect on your life
There’s no denying it. Your appearance will influence how other people perceive you. This decision maker is so ingrained it makes no sense resisting the reality.
The real issue is how YOU respond to this understanding…
Because the most important battle about the impact your physical appearance has on you and your life, rages inside. And if you find yourself struggling to separate the way you look from the person you really are, your self-esteem and confidence can be affected. And that’s when you become more vulnerable and susceptible to making the decisions that can lead to bulimia.
In comparison, if you’re able to acknowledge, accept and celebrate who you really are as an individual, you’re less likely to be negatively affected if you decide you fall short in some way of society’s definition of beauty because you know how to value yourself.
Looks aren’t everything…
Recently I watched this great TED video featuring British model Cameron Russell. I was also a successful international model in my youth and so I could instantly relate to her message.
Watch the video and you’ll see that Cameron delivers a great talk about how the genetic lottery and cultural legacy are stacked in the favour of women like her to “cash in on”. She’s healthy, youthful with beautiful symmetry (things we are biologically programmed to admire). In addition, she’s tall, slender, feminine and white skinned.
As such she fits society’s definition of beauty. What’s more her appearance is celebrated (and manipulated) and her looks are used to promote and sell fashion and beauty products across the world.
In turn, you and me get exposed to these images. And we’re programmed to see perfection. No cellulite, thin thighs, shiny hair, blemish-free skin – a long collection of superficial, physical attributes that we’re programmed to desire and strive to achieve.
We’re falling for a distorted view of reality
But then Cameron delivers a hard-hitting truth (it’s worth watching the video below just to see this point being made) – these photos of her posing and looking perfect ARE NOT REAL.
For sure they’re airbrushed – but that’s only part of the story.
You see these high fashion, magazine photos have been constructed by a series of professionals including photographers, stylists, make-up artists and hair stylists. Then there’s the production and the post-production of the image. What’s more, behind that single, perfect shot are hundreds of others that never made it into print.
If you want to see the real Cameron Russell you won’t find her in those studio or exotic location shots. Instead, you’ll find her on her friend’s iPhone or the candid, private family photos where she’s being her natural self and isn’t awkwardly posed to achieve a particular look.
And there’s more…
Cameron also reveals that whilst she does benefit from the way she looks (yes models do get free stuff and preferential treatment), she is also incredibly insecure. That’s because she is constantly worrying about how she looks because that’s what her value as a person is based upon.
And if society’s definition of beauty shifts, or someone else younger and more beautiful than her emerges (which let’s face it is pretty inevitable), the industry (and society) has no loyalty.
So you may believe you’ll be happier if you were a little bit thinner or if your hair was a little shinier. But this won’t be the case.
And whilst models may have the looks and figure you dream of, they are NOT happy either. As Cameron says, models are among the most insecure women in the world, and I can vouch for that from my own personal experience.
So please stop chasing an impossible dream…
You deserve better
It saddens me immensely to know that people fall into the bulimia trap because of the way they think they look. And it’s a trend that shows no sign of going away.
BUT there is hope because with a change in perspective and a shift in your belief system you can learn to distinguish the difference between the way you look and who you really are.
What’s more, you can learn to value and treasure your inner beauty far above the external physical appearance that is transient and changing.
- You don’t need to prove anything to the world.
- You don’t need to fix anything about yourself to be worthy.
Because the truth is you are PERFECT just as you are and everything is as it should be…
Bulimia is NOT a solution to your insecurities and inner struggle
Now if you’re struggling with bulimia as a result of trying to manage your weight and achieve the image you think will make you acceptable and worthy, it’s time to stop.
Despite what the media would have you believe, true happiness does not come from physical appearance. Instead it bubbles up from within when you take the time to discover who you truly are and the things you truly love.
As this beautiful song ‘Portrait’ by Josephine asks – “Am I a portrait of the person I’m supposed to be?”
If not, it’s time to find a way to make it so – and as a bulimia recovery coach, I can help…
So if you’re ready to free yourself from bulimia by tackling your thoughts and beliefs and transforming the way you feel about yourself, we should talk. Simply email Julie@bulimiafree.com with the subject “I want to chat” and I’ll get back to you and arrange a convenient time to Skype.
Life is precious and there’s so much more to you than your superficial physical appearance – let’s work together to discover the truth…
Bulimia Recovery Coach
Julie won a 15 year battle with bulimia over 20 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.