There’s no question about it. The way body, food, eating, and body image are represented in mainstream media is harmful. Societal standards of beauty are created for profit. By making people believe they are less than, ugly, unwanted, or in need, corporations can sell their products which will rectify these problems. Women’s bodies are photoshopped to be more thin. Men’s bodies are photoshopped to be more sculpted. If one were to make a list of all of society’s demands for having the perfect body, one would find a consistently contradictory list. Expectations lead to disappointments. The expectations set forth by societal pressures and demands regarding body image are impossible to meet, therefore many are left feeling disappointed in how they look. Most unfortunately, many don’t realize that the happiness or feelings of adequacy they seek cannot come from the way they see themselves in the mirror. It is an entirely inside job.
Eating disorders are less about the eating and more about the disorder. Disordered thinking about self, control, body, and image, are what leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. Since the conversation about societal standards through media and body image are so closely tied, many confuse the cause of an eating disorder to be those societal standards. As reported by The State Press, the opposite is true.
Genetics can and do play a large part in the development of eating disorders. While there are specific genes which contribute to eating disorders, they can also develop out of other mental illnesses. Mental illness has been found to be largely genetic, passing on from one generation to the next. Eating disorders are a way to cope with life- similar to the way drugs and alcohol are abused. In fact, there is a high percentage of eating disorders co-occurring with substance abuse. When mental illness goes untreated, it yearns for comfort in whatever way it can. Practices of restriction and starvation, common in anorexia nervosa, or binging and puring, common in bulimia, bring people comfort.
Recovery from an eating disorder will require an understanding of how the mainstream media influences ideals of body image. Digging deep into the psychological underlying causes for eating disorders will help to separate the practice from the perceived cause.
Enlightened Solutions proudly offers dual diagnosis treatment for eating disorders and substance abuse, as well as other co-occurring mental health disorders. We have a carefully curated eating plan complete with nutritional courses and cooking lessons for life skills development. Using twelve step philosophy with evidence based treatment our approach to recovery is integrative and comprehensive. For more information on our programs of treatment, call 833-801-5483.
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