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By Lauren Harding, Eating Recovery Coach

The desire to lose weight is actually pretty normal due to the fact that we all live in a very weight focused and fatphobic society. The pressure to make our bodies look a certain way seems to have become our main purpose as humans. We are not born believing there is something wrong with our bodies, but overtime are conditioned to think that way.  Certain industries capitalize on these beliefs. We latch onto superficial cultural goals- like having a “good body”- to feel as though we have achieved something important. If we fail to achieve this ideal it tends to become more of a personal failure rather than a fault of the damaging message itself. These industries and messages promise us that once the “ideal body” is reached, that “everything will be better”.

The society’s obsession with thinness masks a greater need for something else. Something more meaningful and fulfilling. The more we get in touch with ourselves, the more our obsession with thinness loses its importance. Your relationship with food and your body may be complicated. But at the end of the day all bodies are deserving of respect. It is such an important part of development to become a critical viewer of media and challenge the authority of diet culture.  As you awaken from the toxic cultural messages and become more deeply aware of your mind and body- you can start to feel at home in your body. How often have you viewed yourself as worthless or unlovable when your body has shown signs of imperfections?

My journey to help individuals of every size, shape, and color to make peace with their bodies has become a great source of meaning to my life – one that has stemmed from my own experience of learning to appreciate and respect my body. From a young age I received the pervasive message that thinner is better. During the times that I struggled with an eating disorder I received comments that only reinforced the behaviors- almost congratulating me for the hell that I was living in. From television shows with thin princesses and larger bodied villains, to exploit magazines releasing that a celebrity had been caught eating a piece of pizza (*gasp), and from the conversations that I overheard about the new “clean eating” diet or about how much time was spent at the gym, or of course hearing the justification for being so “bad” after eating a certain type of food. I even remember being in a church class as a teenager learning that “God could help us to not eat the brownies at midnight”. It became clear to me that the moralization of good and bad was not only applicable to making right and wrong choices, but that it was relevant to food and the body as well. The food and the body became my life’s purpose- if I could not be anything else, at least I could be thin. Does this sound familiar to you?

Now on the other side and fully recovered from an eating disorder, I recognize the dysfunctional messages that we receive and the truth behind them. I have become a critical viewer. I have learned to accept and respect my body regardless of what society would tell me otherwise. There is no easy fix to such a large issue- however you can take protective measures to help yourself and those you care about. If you are seeking help regarding making peace with food or accepting your body- schedule a session with a provider to help support you in your journey towards healing.