WHY I BELIEVE BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES IN EATING DISORDER RECOVERY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
At this end of this month is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. A trend every year is for people with EDs to post their sick pictures (before) in comparison with their well pictures (after). I also challenges news organizations like @BuzzFeed not to post before and after pictures as well.
- •They perpetuate the myth that all people with eating disorders are thin.Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes - underweight, overweight and at a normal weight. Society needs to understand that not all eating disorder suffers are underweight and all progress that is made during the rest of the year often goes downhill during NEDA week.
- •They fuel the competition that already exists in the eating disorder community.It's a sad reality of the illness that you can often find people in treatment sitting around comparing who had the lowest weight, who almost died the most times etc etc. It happens on the thriving online eating disorder community as well. Before pictures just fuel the competition to prove that each person was the sickest one.
- •They can keep people from seeking help.People who are struggling with an eating disorder often wonder if they are "bad enough" to reach out for professional support. Being surrounded by images of emancipated people at their worse can make it hard for someone to believe that they are worth help no matter their weight or the severity of their eating disorder.
- •What good does it do for your own recovery?There is a reason most therapist suggest deleting sick picture. Looking back and reminiscing over your sickest days isn't healthy and it often ends up romanizing the illness.
- •They trigger people in recovery.Many people are triggered by pictures of people with very low weights. It's easy to avoid it most of the year but during NEDA week the images are everywhere and it makes it hard.