In my 26 years as a therapist, I've rarely had a relationship with a female client who didn't have a disordered relationship with food.
Most children eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full, don't they.? They don't think about whether food is good or bad, and if we feed them right, they can learn to eat in a healthy, intuitive manner. But most girls start to diet and worry about their bodies by age 8, and 80 percent of 10-year-old girls have gone on a diet. It's a 60.5 billion dollar industry.
No wonder so many women have eating disorders. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder!
The clinical categories of eating disorders are binge eating disorder, anorexia, and bulimia. Because of high death rates, I don't treat these in my office, I refer them out to specialists.
However, I can't ignore the pattern that I see of women and their relationship to food.
Because women aren't taught to love and nurture our bodies, we don't use food in the way it's meant to be used. I think most women have a complex and challenging relationship with food, although necessarily an eating disorder that's "diagnosable. " Our eating is either restrictive in some way or involves guilt, is connected with shame or is used to control our emotions rather than just feeding our bodies. I am tired of hearing about unhealthy eating patterns and dealing with it in therapy! Our relationships to food and our relationships to our bodies are a really big problem.
I think it's abusive to young girls to allow them to be indoctrinated into this culture that poisons the most natural basic instinct to feed their bodies. I don't think we are paying enough attention to this.
Let's teach them that these things are toxic:
Be a feminist ally
Call out sexism and misogyny like you call out racism
I often wonder why we don't talk about holding people more accountable for sexism and calling them out?
Shouldn't we challenge them for these ideas?
When our friends comment on their bodies,
say, " Hey, that's misogyny." If necessary, explain.
Or someone you love criticizes their daughter's body, eating or weight, say
" Pardon me, but this is internalized sexism, and misogynistic." If necessary educate
We aren't likely to comment about our friends going on a diet or joining a new exercise craze. Shouldn't we challenge that for what it is?
When you're on TikTok, and you see a "What I ate today video."
Comment on how this is a problem. This person may not know.
We let this hatred of women slide in all forms, I fear. We don't point it out, and often we don't even see it.
It is not harmless. Teaching young girls that their bodies are their worth is teaching them they are objects. Objectification is the root of violence against women. And we can't participate in that, so let's start teaching them they aren't.
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