Negative body image in eating disorder recovery is often the last thing you let go. It’s said that a negative body image is the first thing to come and the last to leave. Hating our bodies is a theme even though eating disorders aren’t really about what our bodies look like on the outside. Here’s the reason negative body image in our eating disorder recovery is the last thing we let go.
A Negative Body Image in an Eating Disorder Isn’t About Weight
I remember the moment that I realized eating disorders weren’t about wanting to be skinny. I was at the hospital and the group counselor kept saying that eating disorders were a Band-Aid to cover up what was underneath. I remember being irritated and scoffing in my head about how condescending and smart she thought she was. I like to eat and I don’t want to get fat so I run and watch what I eat, and when I binge and purge, I throw up. I just don’t want to be fat, I thought. I thought it was that simple.
Look deeper, they kept telling me, and I thought, “There’s a deeper?”
But, yes, there is a deeper. Eating disorders, like all addictions, are an unhealthy coping tool for dealing with any emotion that we’re uncomfortable feeling. It becomes a way to not feel.
Negative Body Image in Eating Disorder Recovery Is Hard to Shake
A negative body image is the first to creep into our eating disorder, which is why it makes sense it’s the last one to go. It’s been the strongest and longest fixation. It was the easy thing to focus on – make my thighs smaller, my stomach tiny, my arms thin. Whatever it was we wanted our bodies to do, it became our fixation in the mirror, the reason we exercised like a maniac, why we started dieting in the first place to change what we saw in order to change how we felt inside.
Keep in mind that it may take a while to get rid of your negative body image in eating disorder recovery. After all, you’ve spent so much time and energy hating it. It’s only natural to be patient along the path to your new body acceptance and love.
Five Ways to Love Your Body in Eating Disorder Recovery
Touch the part of your body that used to be your most unfavorite. Touch it with love. Tell it that you appreciate what it does for you, such as allow you to walk (if it’s your legs, etc.). Thank it and tell it that you’re going to take care of it from now on in a healthy way.
When you’re out in a public place, look around and observe other people’s bodies. Look at how many shapes and sizes there are and the different ways people move. Silently find something that you like about each person. Then use what you learned finding nice things about others to give that back to yourself and your body.
Take up a class or some form of movement that allows to you be in your body. Some favorites are dance, aerial silk, or pole dancing. One of my friends loves simply walking in her neighborhood. Many pole dancers or aerial silk students love being able to feel feminine and to appreciate their bodies for its strength and flow.
- Practice self-care.
Take a hot bath, wear clothes that make you feel happy, or eat foods that feel nourishing in your body. It’s important to do little things for ourselves and remind ourselves that we are worthy of the love we give ourselves daily.
- Get a massage.
Safe touch is so important to learn how to receive. Massage is a safe, soothing way to relax. If you’re shy, ask a friend for a recommendation for a massage therapist. And, no, they are not thinking about your body in a judgmental way. They are there to relax you and work out your knots.
There are so many ways to begin to love and appreciate our bodies during recovery. Choose any of the above, or your personal, favorite way, to begin a kind relationship with the skin you’re in for life. Get rid of your negative body image in eating disorder recovery and keep walking your recovery path.