The-F-Word.org

Participants wanted for eating disorder survey

9th August 2010

Participants wanted for eating disorder survey

by Rachel

Jennifer Barnes, a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Teeside University, is looking for men and women between the ages of 18-65 who speak fluent English to participate in an online eating disorder survey.  Jennifer explains:

This study is looking for any relationship between symptoms of eating disorders, beliefs people hold about themselves, and the ways in which people protect themselves against stress. Therefore, the study will involve asking questions about people’s thoughts and feelings about eating and about the relationships in their lives, as well as questions about people’s attitudes. It is hoped that this study will further understanding of the characteristics of individuals with symptoms of an eating disorder, and this information would be useful in order to inform therapeutic practice. In addition, this study will hopefully contribute to the body of research involving men with symptoms of eating disorders. However, please note that people of any gender can take part in this study.

You do not need to have an official eating disorder diagnosis to participate.  The survey should take about 30 minutes to complete.  Participants will be entered into a drawing to win a prize of £50.  h/t Men Get Eating Disorders Too.

posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Eating Disorders, Rachel | 5 Comments

23rd July 2010

I’m Back…

by Greta

Hi Everyone,

It has been months since I’ve posted, and I apologize.  I’ve been ridiculously busy… first it was school, then graduation, working two jobs, doing proposal edits for my agent, and now I finally have a minute to breathe.  I have so many posts in my head, so I guess I’ll start with my personal life and recovery.  About six months ago, my partner decided (operative word) that she was going to become spiritually enlightened through Buddhism.  I couldn’t have been more happy.  Through this process, she has drastically cut out unhealthy food from her diet, essentially cleansing her mind, body, and soul.  She has been a long-time sufferer of IBS, so she had a reason to change her nutritional regimen.  Since she made the decision to change her eating, she has never looked back.  Of course, this has caused her to lose quite a bit of weight, and she was already thin.

Enter my insanity.

As an ED in recovery, I, naturally, think that this can’t be good.  My thoughts race.  She’s be in denial.  She doesn’t realize she’s doing this on purpose.  She really wants to lose more.  She must have an eating disorder. So, I allude to her that she’s becoming anorexic and she gets offended.  Okay so that’s my first clue that she does not have an ED.  Moreover, she tells me that most people who tell her she’s too thin are people who only wish they could eat as healthily as she.

Enter my reality.

She is right.  I was completely jealous.  After struggling for years with the ED, then struggling with mental obsession (although it has lessened) in recovery, I was dumbfounded how, in one swoop, she just decided to completely change her life.  Just how is it that one can evolve so quickly?  While she is not in a recovery program, her behaviors seem to mimic the 3rd step of all 12-step programs… Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. I’m no longer a 12-stepper, but the third step just keeps popping up in my brain.  Another phrase embedded in my brain from “the rooms” was that we had a god-sized hole that we were trying to fill up with food, alcohol, people, etc.

What I’m learning is that god-sized holes aren’t just for addicts, and my partner has shown me that many spiritual solutions exist outside the rooms of AA/OA–no matter how much people in the rooms tell you otherwise.  Second, another major difference between my partner and I (besides being separate people, lol) is I’m the one with the eating disorder.  Solely losing weight does not make for an eating disorder–a symptom of an ED, yes.  But, as we all know, EDs are full of biopsychosocial/spiritual complexities, and considered a disease by most medical professionals.

I still have food patterns that bother me… though, it’s my perfection and ED voice that are most bothered by them.  By non-ED standards, my food intake is healthy.  So, because I have this “disease” hanging over my head, does that mean I cannot make a decision and evolve overnight?  It certainly makes me wonder.  I haven’t been able to do it so far, so probably not.  As “normal” as I try to be and free myself from the ED identity, it seems to always be hangin’ around in some form or another.  I remember in treatment professionals telling me that as many years as one is in the ED it takes an equal amount of time in recovery to undo the ED mindset.  So, I have about a decade to go I guess!  Something to look forward to, lol.

Anyway, that’s all for now!

More posts are on the way!!

posted in Author, Greta, Mind & Body, Recovery | 8 Comments

22nd July 2010

Crystal Renn on skinny pics: “Don’t make me into something I’m not”

by Rachel

Plus-size model and body image darling Crystal Renn and blogger Leslie Goldman appeared on the Today show to discuss the recent airbrushing scandal of Crystal by photographer Nicholas Routzen. I found her to be extremely smart and eloquent in her response to the situation, as well as to the pervasive issues plaguing plus-size models.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Renn also earlier spoke with Glamour about her reaction to the photos, explaining:

Well, I was shocked. When I saw the pictures, I think I was silent for a good five minutes, staring with my mouth open. I don’t know what was done to those photos or who did it, but they look retouched to me. And listen, everybody retouches, but don’t make me into something I’m not.

I look like me; I look strong. But in the new pictures…well, that body doesn’t look like my body. It doesn’t. Having had an eating disorder, I know what that very thin body looks like on me, and it’s not something I find attractive. It’s not something I aspire to.

I feel completely confident in my own health because I know I don’t look like that, but even to see it in an image was really disturbing to me.

Airbrushing a model beyond recognition is unethical in more ways than one, but given Crystal’s hard-fought battle against anorexia and her public campaign to raise awareness of the disorder, this act of virtually whittling her back to those dark days is especially heinous. Even more ironically, photographer Nicholas Routzen shot and altered these images to promote his nonprofit charity Fashion for Passion, which supports arts and music programs for children. Ehem, Nicholas? It may be a little difficult to inspire a passion for the arts in children who are too obsessed with looking like the unrealistic and unattainable airbrushed images they see in magazines and the media.

Your thoughts on the whole debacle?

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Fashion, Rachel | 15 Comments

23rd June 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In: A tide-you-over post until we can write something in more detail

by charlynn

I have a feeling I’m not the only writer for the-f-word.org that is insanely busy right now since no one has posted in over a week. On behalf of the three of us, you have our apologies. We hate it when life gets in the way of blogging just as much as you do. :)

With that in mind, here comes another roundup of links instead of a fully thought-out post, but at least it’s something new…right? Right!

MSNBC profiles three women who gained weight as a result of illness, not overeating. One struggles with a hormonal imbalance and has noticed how people treat her differently because of her weight. Another gained weight as a result of taking steroids for migraines. The third woman developed insulin resistance, and prior to developing her condition, believed that obesity was a “couch potato disease.” Not any longer — she says she is ashamed for being so judgmental in the past.

In case you haven’t already heard about this, former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard is speaking about her experience on the show, saying she left the show with a distorted body image and developed an eating disorder. She is going public with her story because she feels that some elements of the show are misleading and hurtful to viewers.

Haaretz.com in Israel has a fantastic story about what life is like at the eating disorders unit at Sheba Medical Center.

And finally, the Los Angeles Times published an article a couple of days ago about the Maudsley Approach. Success stories as well as skepticism about the method are discussed.

For the sake of discussion, what has everybody been doing while we’ve been absent? Share your latest by making a comment!

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, Charlynn, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Recovery | 12 Comments

9th June 2010

The Wednesday Weigh-In

by Rachel

Margarita Tartakovsky of the blog Weightless interviews Cheryl Kerrigan, author of the new book Telling ED NO! and Other Practical Tools to Conquer Your Eating Disorder and Find Freedom.

Fat Lot of Good blogger Bri weighs in on a recent study that found that children whose mothers were chronically abused by their partners were more likely to be fat by age 5.  Because being fat is so much more pressing of an issue than being victimized by domestic violence.

Urban Outfitters removes what many are calling a pro-ana t-shirt from its website, but the “Eat Less” shirt remains available in stores.   Outraged?  Join the Girlcott Urban Outfitters group on Facebook.

Should appearance-based discrimination be treated with the same weight as we give to other -isms like racism and sexism?  That’s the question Deborah Rhodes tackles in her new book, The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s review of the book on Slate.

Just when you thought the insanity would never end…  It’s not enough that some parents lose custody of their obese children because of their weight.  Now a British animal welfare council has seized custody of an obese dog.  The pudgy pup Gucci is said to now be on a strict diet and exercise regime at a special canine fat club.

FEAST has launched its Around the Dinner Table Plate Drive through June.  The fundraising initiative supports the group’s mission, which is to empower families and support parents and caregivers in helping loved ones recover from eating disorders.

The British Mail’s Lucy Taylor ruminates on on how she gave up running and learned to simply enjoy the journey.

Oprah.com contributor Karen Salmansohn looks at the Fox and ABC refusal to air the sexy new Lane Bryant lingerie commercials in a different light: “The fact that a TV network would find this Lane Bryant spot far more sexually enticing than Victoria’s Secret spots — which air all the time — simply shows they’re acknowledging the extreme sexiness of voluptuous women!”

Comments?  Any links to share?  Add your two cents in the comments below.

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Body Politic, Body-Affirming, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Feminist Topics, Legal Issues, Mental Health, Non-profits, Politics, Pop Culture, Rachel | 12 Comments

25th May 2010

British “health” mag fattens up gaunt thin model

by Rachel

In a strange twist to the usual Photoshopped models debate, a British magazine has ‘fessed up to digitally manipulating an image of a shockingly thin model to make her look… heavier.

Jane Druker, editor of the ironically titled publication Healthy, admitted to airbrushing model Kamilla Wladyka’s cover shot on the April edition of the mag, explaining that the model initially *appeared* to be in good health, but had lost so much weight in the week between casting and shoot that airbrushing became necessary.   As the Daily Mail UK reports, editors added 2-3 stone, or 28-42 pounds, to Kamilla’s photo to make the 5-foot-10-inch, British size-6 model look “a little bit bigger, to make her look like she was a size ten as opposed to a size four” out of concern for the magazine’s commitment to promoting “health and wellbeing.”

‘There were plenty of clothes that we couldn’t put on her because her bones stuck out too much,’ Druker said.  ‘She looked beautiful in the face, but really thin and unwell. That’s not a reflection of what we do in our magazine, which is about good health.’

Good health?  Really?

In its defense, the magazine acted transparently and stated that they do not normally airbrush images of models to give the false illusion of health.  Yet if this model appeared to be so unnaturally thin and unhealthy that digital airbrushing was required, why wasn’t she sent home immediately and another healthier model used instead?  Oh, silly me… I forgot.  Healthy magazine, like so many others, determines health and wellbeing on almost the sole basis of appearance. And as everyone knows, thin=healthy but too thin=unhealthy, so instead let’s just made the model LOOK like she doesn’t suffer from raging anorexia, actual health be damned.

Yes, it’s a good thing that magazines and advertisers are beginning to take heed of the tragic and dangerous social implications of showing images, altered or otherwise, of super-skinny models.  But the solution is not to simply airbrush the same radically thin models into some slightly higher, but more socially-acceptable vision of conformity, but rather to actually seek out and hire models whose body shapes and sizes require very little to no airbrushing in order to meet these standards.  As eating disorder activist Susan Ringwood, who has campaigned for the use of diversely-sized fashion models, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

There’s a fundamental difference between using camera work to make someone look polished, and changing the shape and size of someone’s body in order to portray them looking differently, to conform to whatever ideal.  It’s just not helpful and puts huge pressure on people to keep up a hyper-perfectionism that isn’t real. If you can’t trust the health industry to be healthy, how can you expect the fashion magazines to put their house in order?

But, then again, what do we really expect from a “health” magazine that also advertises weight-loss advice on the same cover as the same gaunt-thin model airbrushed to look heavier?

posted in Body Politic, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture, Rachel | 14 Comments

20th May 2010

Guest post: Fasting for God or holy anorexia?

by Rachel

Speaking of women, food and god… Reader Jocelyn (who comments here by the name J.S.) contacted me a few weeks ago proposing a guest blog entry on the convergence of fasting for religious purposes and eating disorders among women of faith — and we’re not just talking here about pursuit of the Gospel of Thinness. As someone who subscribes to spiritual beliefs (Buddhism) in which followers promote many dictates around food (no meat or alcohol, eat only until you’re 80 percent full, etc…), I was intrigued to learn more about the fasting traditions held in other religions.* Many religions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, incorporate fasting into spiritual beliefs, believing it to give followers a heightened sense of self-awareness and more intimate connection with god or nature. Yet I was still a bit shocked to read in Jocelyn’s guest post of the extreme fasting lengths to which some people of faith will go — and how quickly those religious motivations can morph into something entirely more dangerous and insidious.

“You have to watch it with those religious girls,” my sister murmured to me under cover of the blender noise.

I looked away from my room-mate, who was shoving a concoction of blueberries, soy milk, and bananas into the blender’s pitcher across the kitchen. “What do you mean?”

“That’s going to be her only meal today? She’s ‘fasting’?” At my nod, she added, “Didn’t you tell me she’s anorexic?”

I shifted, uncomfortable. “Well, she was. I mean, obviously she’s not starving herself now, she looks healthy…”

“Maybe she’s still trying to starve herself,” my sister said softly, just before the motor cut out.

At the time I had recently moved to the area in order to become part of a large group of Christian people who believe in something called the “fasted lifestyle.” As preached, the fasted lifestyle means voluntary restraint, from spending to housing to food—in other words, one lives in a simple fashion in order to have greater resources to devote to the Kingdom of God. As practiced by many of the early twenty-something women who devoted themselves to the cause, it became practical, religious-sanctioned anorexia.

I didn’t know this when I moved there. I had friends from a previous year spent in the city; we had all belonged to a church that was now defunct. Many of them had joined the group before I returned. I liked their message of whole-hearted devotion. I still do, which is why I’m not naming it; the leaders practice what they preach. But. When I would hang out, outside the building, I would overhear snatches of conversation that should have given me pause.

“She’s only eating one meal a day for… forever. She’s, like, totally devoted.” (This was about a church leader who was in her early twenties at the time.)

“What are you fasting from this time?” “He said we’re not supposed to talk about it so we don’t compare… Okay. I’m doing liquids only.” “Oh man. Maybe I should make mine tougher. I was just going to go no meats, no sweets.”

“It was supposed to be a 21-day fast, but I lost ten pounds so I thought maybe I should go to forty days?”

I wasn’t self-aware enough to realize it, but this was a toxic scene for me. I had recently lost quite a bit of weight through extremely regimented means, although it was all physician-approved, and I lived with the daily fear that I would gain it all back. Every time I stepped on the scale, and it was often, I would suffer a shaft of icy panic if I had even gained one pound. When my room-mate moved into my apartment, we fed each others’ obsessions. We would go and eat monster servings of frozen custard, and then declare we were fasting for the next two weeks—or at least until we could fit into our skinny jeans again. But of course, the fasting was all for God, not for us… right?

Eventually I moved back to my home state. Once there, I found a church that I felt comfortable with. They were loosely connected with my previous spiritual leaders, and preached a similar message. I slowly regained some stability in my eating habits. I stopped obsessing over weight gain. All was well for a couple of years… And then I noticed that fasting was becoming more and more commonly preached from the pulpit as a means to connect with God. Church-wide fasts were declared. The teenaged and slightly older girls grew gaunt, or gained weight—almost none stayed the same. I lost a bunch of weight, and then yo-yoed back up again. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t comprehend how dire the situation had become until my best friend, who had started attending about six months after me, came to me with the news that she and her husband were strongly considering leaving.

“Do you realize, Chris (her husband) and I added up all the days we were supposed to be fasting—I mean, church-wide fasts that were called from the pulpit? And it added up to one hundred and fifty days,” she told me. “That’s ridiculous.”

I had by no means participated whole-heartedly in that many days of fasting, though I had tried, but—150? Faced with that number, I retreated to my computer. I looked up fasting to see if I could find anybody else who had experienced something similar. The first blog I read opened with an introduction in which the author pleaded for support and understanding for her lifestyle of fasting. I thought I must have found someone from the same church… And then, as I continued scrolling, I discovered that it was a pro-ana blog. Her fasted lifestyle was one of stylized starvation. A light bulb went off in my head—not the ultimate light bulb that I was eating disordered, that came later, but I did realize, “this is not healthy. And if I’m not caring for my body, which is a temple, then it can’t be holy either.”

It took another year, but I left that church. There were other reasons, of course, but the emphasis on fasting over practical expressions of love was the main factor. I had come to realize that my relationship with food simply wasn’t healthy enough for me to deny myself all of it for a period of time without serious consequences. Nor was I ready to hear it preached as a shortcut to God’s action without experiencing crippling guilt about my inability to participate.

I have friends who are Muslim who have told me about their conflicted relationship with faith-mandated fasting. I know (partly from Rachel) that other religions recommend denying oneself food as a gateway to accessing the divine. Have you ever experienced this sort of thing, or am I the only one? I’d love to hear from The F-Word’s readership, because I’ve felt like an oddity.

* For more on fasting and Buddhism, read the last half of the post here.

posted in Anorexia, Eating Disorders, Guest Blogger, Mental Health, Rachel, Religion | 31 Comments

17th May 2010

Announcing The-F-Word class of 2010: Charlynn and Greta!!!

by Rachel

Dummm … da da dum daaaa dum …. dummm … da da da dummm …

Congratulations to Charlynn and Greta on their college graduations! Charlynn, pictured right, graduated with her bachelor’s of arts degree in psychology, which pairs well with the degree in addictions she earned last summer. She plans to stay in Laramie while her husband finished his master’s degree in communication, where she will get “some sort of job so the bank account doesn’t die.” When hubby finishes his degree, he and Charlynn plan to move someplace warmer and with a decent job market. Charlynn says she’s not sure if she will go on to get her master’s degree, and is still seeking that perfect mix of a job that “requires more creativity, especially if that entails me being my own boss and/or creating my own vision in my work.” Greta, meanwhile, already has her post-graduate plans mapped out.  Now that she’s completed her master’s degree in social work, she plans to do a two-year specialization in eating disorders at a psychoanalytic/CBT psychotherapy institute.

Please congratulate both Charlynn and Greta on their amazing accomplishments!!

posted in Eating Disorders, Other, Rachel, Recovery | 4 Comments

14th May 2010

Free “Heal from Emotional Eating” teleclass on June 10

by Rachel

Friend of the blog and health counselor Golda Poretsky is offering a FREE 90-minute teleclass from 8 – 9:30 p.m. EST  June 10 on how to heal from emotional eating.  Oh, yeah… Did I mention the class is FREE?

In this 90-minute teleclass, Golda Poretsky, H.H.C. (founder of Body Love Wellness and leading authority on Health At Every Size) will share her top techniques for healing from emotional eating — the same ones she shares with her private coaching clients.

You’ll walk away from this call with surprisingly powerful, yet simple techniques for healing from emotional eating.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

* Easy ways to reconnect with your body’s innate wisdom.
* The one essential vitamin that you’re definitely missing.
* Why you can’t stick to diets (hint: it’s not about willpower).
* Why you find it hard to stop eating at night.
* How to heal from habits that no longer serve you.

Whether emotional eating is a new problem for you or you’ve been doing it as long as you can remember, you’ll get at least 3 BIG insights into how to heal from emotional eating that you’ll be able to use immediately to reconnect with your body and eat healthfully with ease.

Register HERE.

posted in Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia, ED-NOS, Rachel, Recovery | 3 Comments

13th May 2010

Geneen Roth releases new book on women, food and god

by Rachel

I discovered the works of Geneen Roth early on into my eating disorder and I found them to be immensely insightful and helpful in helping me come to terms with the emotions driving my own disorder.  If you aren’t familiar with her, Roth is a writer, teacher and founder of the “Breaking Free” workshops, which she has conducted nationwide since 1979.  She is also the author of Feeding the Hungry Heart, Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating, and When Food Is Love.  Now Roth has released yet another book, which I’m sure will be a “godsend” for many struggling with food addictions and other related behaviors.  Women, Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything is getting rave reviews, including from such luminaries as Anne Lamott.  Here’s a blurb from Amazon:

…after more than three decades of studying, teaching and writing about what drives our compul-sions with food, Geneen adds a profound new dimension to her work in Women, Food and God. She begins with her most basic concept: The way you eat is inseparable from your core beliefs about being alive. Your relationship with food is an exact mirror of your feelings about love, fear, anger, meaning, transformation and, yes, even God. But it doesn’t stop there. Geneen shows how going beyond both the food and feelings takes you deeper into realms of spirit and soul to the bright center of your own life.

With penetrating insight and irreverent humor, Roth traces food compulsions from subtle beginnings to unexpected ends. She teaches personal examination, showing readers how to use their relationship with food to discover the fulfillment they long for.

Your relationship with food, no matter how conflicted, is the doorway to freedom, says Roth. What you most want to get rid of is itself the doorway to what you want most: the demystification of weight loss and the luminous presence that so many of us call “God.”

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body…and almost everything else. Women, Food and God is, quite simply, a guide for life.

This book isn’t for everyone, obviously — it seems geared towards people who follow the Christian faith* — but the emphasis on self-examination and understanding our food-related behaviors sounds promising.  If anyone has read it, let us know what you think.

* Thanks to readers who clarified that Roth’s concept of “God” is not necessarily Christian-defined.

posted in Book Reviews, Eating Disorders, Mental Health, Rachel, Recovery | 31 Comments

  • The-F-Word on Twitter

  • Categories


Socialized through Gregarious 42