When I first went into recovery, I knew that it was going to be a learning curve, but one of the hardest lessons I had to learn was to do with exercise. There had been so much focus on my weight and eating habits in the early stages of my recovery that exercise was anything but in the forefront. It wasn’t until about a year into my recovery that I was faced with a difficult truth: exercise isn’t always healthy.
It’s time for us to talk about To The Bone.
Given the flurry of media attention surrounding the controversial Netflix film, and the complexity of the issues raised by the individuals and organizations who have voiced their opinions of it, Looking Glass has decided to compose a collective response to the film from our perspective as an eating disorder recovery-focused organization.
What is recovery?
If you have ever suffered or supported someone who has an eating disorder, chances are you’ve asked yourself this question – over and over again.
I really didn't want to talk about this today.
In fact, most days I don't want to talk about this. I'm tired, frustrated, and quite frankly, bored talking about this. But this is a conversation that really needs to happen – because we live in a culture that perpetually shames, abuses, and harasses the bodies that inhabit it. And I can't afford to be sick and tired of talking about it, because the stakes are too high and we still have a lot of work to do together.
We don’t all work in an office that has a water cooler, but it’s a guarantee that these “water cooler conversations” are still taking place. These are the conversations you and your colleagues engage in when you’re taking a break from your work-related tasks. They take place in the lunchroom, your cubicles, at the printer, in meeting rooms, and the trip to grab your afternoon caffeine pick-me-up. They’re everywhere and they’re hard to avoid.
Calories have been in the news.
As of January 1st 2017, many major restaurant chains in Ontario are now required to post calorie counts beside their menu items, and perhaps not surprisingly, everyone seems to have an opinion about that.
At this year’s Emmys, one of host Jimmy Kimmel’s big jokes was to hand out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the audience. Sounds great, right? Except that it was accompanied with a quick quip, "I know these award shows are long and you haven't eaten since Labor Day." The joke being that it is common knowledge that celebrities do not eat. Even if we look past the dangerous misconception of how eating disorders operate (i.e. the idea that re-feeding along will solve what is a complex psychological, physical, and emotional disorder), even if we forgive Kimmel’s delivery, jokes like this are cheap and unoriginal.
Navigating the road to recovery from an eating disorder is no easy path, never mind taking into account the world around us. Daily we are exposed to images that could be potentially triggering to someone who has experience within the realm of eating disorders, and no other industry is quite as rampant as the fitness and diet world.
In the depths of my eating disorder, I couldn’t imagine life without it. It was my lifeline, my constant companion. The first program I entered was on outpatient one at the request of my doctor and I reluctantly attended to make the people in my life happy. I said what I had to, to get through appointments and then I went home to my behaviours. My interest in recovering didn’t exist. 10 years later, with a deep desire to recover, I was still playing the same game. Attending appointments, crying about why nothing ever changed, and going home to my behaviours. My passive approach to recovery left me stuck, unable to move forward but too afraid to face the unknown.
For the past ten months, I’ve been a counsellor-intern at a college counselling center. To say it was an “education” would be an understatement. Although I’d been attending the same institution as a postgrad student for a number of years, I wasn’t really engaged in student life. It was only once I started hearing the stories and struggles of my on-campus undergraduate clients that I gained terrific (sometimes terrifying) insight into what life outside of my office looked like.