Promoting a healthy body image: it's both and inside and outside job

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending The Rock Recovery Blogger Brunch at Lavagna hosted by Angelica Talan of the local, lifestyle blog, ClarendonMoms, and sponsored by Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center.

Rock Recovery is a non-profit that supports the journey to freedom from disordered eating through individual recovery and community empowerment programs. February 22 - 28 was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so it was a perfect time to address the issue and talk about ways we, as a community of bloggers and professionals in the health and wellness, can be positive role models around the important topics of disordered eating and body image issues.

However, this can’t just be one-time conversation, once a year.  I have known, for some time, that obsessive dieting and poor body image affects many women, often for their entire lives, but it's far more pervasive than I realized.  The statistics, alone, are startling:

  • 47% of 5th-12h grade girls want to lose weight because of magazine pictures.
  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
  • 35% of “occasional dieters” progress into pathological dieting and 25% advance to full blown eating disorders.
  • The “ideal” body type portrayed in the media is only attainable for 5% of women.
  • Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

When girls, as young as 7-years old, want to lose weight to be thinner, we have to take stock of what is going on around us.  In a world of photoshop, fad diets, Instagram filters, and “get bikini ready” magazine covers, it’s imperative we take a stand and start promoting realistic body images that women can feel good about.

Rock Recovery shared with us, 7 Tips for Promoting Healthy Body Image & Eating and I am committing to, not only to abide by these on my blog and in my health coaching practice, but in my own life as well.

  1. Don’t use the term “good” or “bad” when referring to foods, and instead focus on the health benefits of food (SO crucial!)
  2. Discourage dieting and focus on lifestyle changes and building healthy habits (one simple, savvy step at a time;)
  3. Be mindful of photos that have been retouched and whenever possible, don’t use them.
  4. Use inclusive and non-judgmental language about weight, shape and size.
  5. Be aware of promoting the ideal “thin” and muscular culture.
  6. Promote health and positivity and educate readers on body confidence and self-esteem.
  7. Call out unrealistic body image expectations in society.

The sooner we realize that eating and exercising to feel healthy and vibrant is the end-game, not a size 4 waist, then we’ll all start to feel calmer, more at peace, and much happier.

Plus, imagine all the time you will save if you just stopped counting the calories, reading the diet books and judging yourself in the mirror!  If you really think about it, probably enough time to go back to school and earn a second degree.

Let’s invest our time in something more productive (& FUN)!