|This was a billboard placed on the side of the road (I don't|
know if it is still there). She was a model...I believe she died
shortly after (but I could be wrong). Good for her for
standing up to the fashion industry.
I've been reading a brilliant book over the last day (seriously, I cracked it open when I got it and haven't been able to put it down). I believe all parents of girls and teens should read it, but especially those families dealing or about to deal with an eating disorder...it's brilliant! Harriet Brown authors, "Brave Girl Eating; A Family's Struggle with Anorexia". It details her own experience with her daughter and reviews the research. It takes the attention off the parents (as the cause) and leans towards genetics...not that they have found the origin or anything. She puts a face on the disease and takes the reader through an honest look at what the disease does. I understand if parents don't want to read this book as it may scare you to death, but if you can get through the initial fear, it you will be more prepared than ever to take anorexia by the balls and kick it to the curb.
I am also very angry at our health promotion fields. Those who (and I was one of these people for twenty years) tout the importance of low fat eating, caloric restriction, "healthy" body weights that can be defined as slender, thin, fit, and skinny. Our society is really sick in the head when it comes to fat. Women and girls bond with each other through comments disparaging their bodies. Statements like, "I hate my thighs!", and "I'm so fat its disgusting", can be heard everywhere if we listen hard enough. Parents, thinking they are doing good, are pushing their kids towards the fear of fat by offering low fat this and sugar free that. Schools are teaching youngsters how to read calories and fat and to limit their intake. What the hell do you think is going to happen? Will we find the love and respect for ourselves we all need to overall health? Absolutely not!
Our fat phobic society is slowly turning people into orthorexics (someone very rigid in diet and lifestyle as to not get fat or become unhealthy in any way). Of course, the irony is a fear of anything causes illness. The lucky ones; those I determine successful in life are those who truly love themselves for who and what they are. They aren't trying to shrink their waistlines, tone their arms, or search out the lowest fat munchie. They are happy people who love themselves. Why can't we spend the money teaching children that and not how many calories are in a bag of chips? We are pathetically short sighted when it comes to health....and I have played a huge role in this myself.
I am angry that I have spent 20+ years talking about the benefits of exercise and diet for weight loss. I feel angry (at this moment in time) for not choosing art school instead. My entire career has been about changing people for the better vs. loving yourself for who you are and what you do now. It's bringing tears to my eyes as I type this. Shit.
Being around anorexia again, I realize that although my own eating disorders were kicked to the curb in my twenties, the thoughts remain. Beliefs around worthiness and body size, guilt and about being a fat fitness leader, restricting or eliminating foods, I have to be honest and admit that my own beliefs about fat continue to drive some of my behaviour (not all of it however..I work very hard at challenging myself every day). The only difference is I am able to control those thoughts and not manifest them into an eating disorder all over again. I find myself angry with the mother as she continues to weigh herself and monitor her body size through diet and extreme exercise but I'm sure we have some of the same thoughts. The cold, hard truth is if we dislike something in someone it's only because we dislike it in ourselves. I have to remember that (when I feel like running her over in my car - refer to the blog post "Why Can't We Just Get Long"...you will understand).
So I continue to read whatever I can about anorexia and talk to all my friends in social work and counselling (I'm very lucky I have so many in the helping professional field). I have to remember, she isn't my child and I can do nothing but support her and be her friend. My fear, however, is getting in the way of that at the moment and I am feeling completely paralyzed - scared I'll say something stupid and drive her deeper into the illness. My hope is she isn't that bad, my fear is I'm in denial.
There is a quote I read by Winston Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going." I love that. I also remind myself that things don't happen to us in life for no reason, there is a lesson we must learn from everything that occurs (I believe that as strongly as I believe I'm sitting here craving a chocolate Betty Crocker cake with vanilla icing from a can).
In the meantime, I'm looking forward to a weekend of nothing to do except get my mountain bike cleaned up, eat a pizza, drink a bottle of wine (not in one sitting...but pretty close), and watch one good movie (the kind that keeps you on the edge of your seat without blinking).