Sometimes on social media or in news papers there are stories of people who have recovered from mental illnesses. Often these articles feature photos of the individual before and after recovery.
So what is the issue? Well personally I have never had a problem with transformation photos,Infact I think its quite motivational to see how someone has managed to get from sick to healthy. People should be able to share their journey and be proud of their progress.
Recently I shared too side by side photos, just face not full body on Instagram explaining that I had been struggling with an ED and that it is not just about looks/weight. I wanted to post this because I had been tired of hiding my struggle over the past few years. Also all the questions of “do you really need to eat that much” “have you gained weight” how comes your not at uni?” get tiresome. I hoped the post would explain. I also don’t think people should be ashamed of having an ED.I was for such a long time and still am sometimes but maybe if I have the courage to speak up then others will too. I hope maybe it could also help someone who is I the same position as me or struggling to find the motivation to recover to realise it is worth it no matter how hard it is.I was so scared of being judged but instead the support was overwhelming. It made me realise there is always someone to turn to and you are never alone in fighting this.Many people are willing to be supportive or understanding if you let them.It made me feel incredibly lucky and blessed and even more motivated to not give up and give into the eating disorder.I also received some messages from people who have struggled with ED’s or had a family member/friend who struggled saying they could really relate to what I wrote.
However I do understand though why some people may not like these sort of images for various reasons.
1)You cannot judge the seriousness of an eating disorder by someone’s physical appearance. Just because someone doesn’t look on the verge of death doesn’t mean they do not deserve/need help.
2)They can breed comparison/competitiveness.Eating disorders are really good at telling sufferers they are “not bad enough” or that they do not deserve help. If people discuss their lowest weights/BMI’s it can send the wrong messages to sufferers that 1)They do not deserve treatment 2)They are not that sick 3)Will not face medical complications. I don’t think people should go into intricate details such as weights, or how little they ate e.t.c why focus on the sick person you once was? Is that sort of information relevant or helpful to someone else? Instead be happy for the person you have fought to become.
3)ED’s are mental illnesses and therefore a transformation photo cannot show the mental progress an individual has made. Just because you are a healthy weight doesn’t mean the disordered thoughts are not there anymore.
4)They can reinforce the stigma that exists in society that people with eating disorders look a certain way. The reality is eating disorders present themselves in different ways, there is no one size fits all.Two people may be suffering from the same eating disorder but have completely different experiences/battles.
5)Everyone has different set point weights so no two people that have recovered from an ED will look the same when they are weight restored. This can again cause unhealthy comparison.
6)It can send the wrong message that poor body image/dieting are the causes of eating disorders. While that may play a part it can take away from the seriousness of the conditions. An eating disorder is not something you suddenly choose to have and there are many various causes. There are many factors that can contribute to someone developing an eating disorder.
I just think when we just need to be careful about what messages we are sending out to the broader public when talking about eating disorders/sharing stories and being considerate of other suffers. That being said I believe we are all responsible for our own actions and if you find a blog unhelpful then do not read it! If something “triggers” you try and stay away from it.Be responsible for yourself and your own recovery. If someone wants to share their story/photos they should be able to I think as long as its for the right reasons.
Weight and food are just distractions from the problems that are going on inside and so if we focus too much on weights and intake then it disregards the complexity of what the sufferer is going through.
Its definitely a debatable topic.