This month, ASKInYourFace.com is launching an awareness campaign to shine the spotlight on midlife eating disorders.Â An eating disorder is not merely an attempt to look ultra-thin. It is a psychological fixation on wrestling control in an uncontrollable world.
Yes, the media portray women in unthinkable profiles — rail-thin, gaunt-looking in size 2s and 0s, when the average healthy woman hovers between a 6 and a 12.Â But that’s not what turns adult women toward an unconscious desire to binge and vomit, to starve themselves, or worse.Â Midlife eating disorders are brought on by a host of factors, not the least of which are lifecycle stressors like a traumatic illness, children leaving the nest, a divorce or a death, or other such monumental, and often unexpected, occurrences.Â Some people are predispositioned to use or abuse food as a coping mechanism, as the one thing they can control when everything else in their lives seems out of their reach.
Recently, I received a piece of inspiring and unprecedentedÂ news: a ban on the use of underweight models in advertising, on fashion runways and everywhere else in Israel.Â In every fashion-and image-conscious Western nation, we have been battling the adoration of unhealthy, unnaturally thin women as the ideal feminine. And so I received this groundbreaking news with sheer joy and relief that the government of Israel is realizing what so many other governments are turning a blind eye to: that it is impossible to progress as a nation if we idealize skeleton-like women and force all women to strive for an unreachable ideal.
Doctors, dietitians, fitness professionals and others have long campaigned against the unhealthy body image of super-skinny women — and advocated for a wake-up call to the paths they take to get there: binge-eating, anorexia, bulimia and other unhealthy behaviors. Everyone else turns a blind eye.Â And so Israel’s stand marks real progress toward a shift in redefining what makes a healthy body, and a healthy mind. I salute Israeli lawmakers and their ardent supporters for taking this necessary stand against the media and a culture that sadly encourages the self-torture of women to reach a grotesque ideal in order to be “role models” of an appropriate female image.Â We in America must also take a stand and speak out against our own unethical practices and portrayals of women who damage themselves in order to reach an unhealthy beauty standard…and to find work in the public eye.Â Just think about the recent lawsuit against the Hooters restaurant chain for insisting that their waitresses lose weight in order to wait tables. This is one of a thousand examples of what must end if we are to promote good health among women.
When women hold themselves to such an absurd and dangerous ideal, they destroy their hearts, their souls, their bodies — their very Self.Â It is my mission and passion to save our female souls! Our society perpetuates an obsessive desire to emulate a “perfect female body” for social acceptance — which is impossible for most women to attain.Â This why I am initiating the first Michigan Coalition on Mid-life Eating Disorders, a committee dedicated to the treatment and healing of mid-life women. If we don’t speak out, no one will. And until we are all aware of the deeply disturbing and pervasive problem of midlife eating disorders among women, we have no chance of ever changing these unhealthy practices.
Beginning July 1, Askinyourface.com will present a comprehensive look into the dark, ugly and terrifying world of women battling and suffering daily, even hourly, eating disorders such as Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating. Their lives are a private hell and so many women feel there is no way out – no lifeline to catch hold of. Years of disordered thoughts, attitudes and behaviors influenced by cultural, social or family influence takes a deep hold in the psyche.
Powerful (and damaging) unhealthy messages translate into a dangerous downward spiral of self-destructive behaviors. The use and abuse of food and obsessive preoccupation with body image is often, at first glance,Â “eating disorders on the surface,” supported by much deeper and more complex problems. Many women also suffer with co-addictive behaviors such as stealing, abuse of money and drug and alcohol abuse.Â We offer support and safety, insights and resources for treatment and recovery – we offer hope! Eating disorders are serious and often deadly!
Years of an untreated eating disorder can deepen and complicate mental, emotional and physical burdens, making treatment and recovery more challenging. But, with proper treatment, recovery is possible at any stage.Â Our goal is to raise awareness about the many, many women in our midst who battle mid-life eating disorders — for years, for decades — because everyone pretends it’s not happening or doesn’t know how to help.
The shame and stigma attached to mid-life women with eating disorders keeps most women imprisoned in their fears of “coming out of the closet.” With the support and guidance of caring professionals, we are creating a network of support and resources to guide women toward a healthy, whole and peaceful life.
Please…we encourage you to share your comments, concerns, secrets and fears……you, a loved one, friend or family member. There is hope!
All emails directed to firstname.lastname@example.org will remain confidential Â unless otherwise stated.