I am thrilled to have Tayla James, author of She’ll Be Free, guest post on Another Piece of Cake! Please check out her blog – she is honest, spirited, and provides practical tips on how to recover from an eating disorder. (And she makes jewelry and cards! How amazing is that!) In this entry, she writes about societal standards that influenced her ED and how she overcame them. Enjoy!
Are Social Influences Ruining Your Life?
Magazine images, degrading commercials, thin actresses.
All of those have one thing in common; they can be detrimental to women, especially to those trying to recover from an eating disorder.
I clearly remember when I was in the beginning stages of my anorexia looking at these magazines and wondering why my thighs were not as skinny as Jessica Simpson’s. How could she be twice as old and yet have smaller thighs?
I just didn’t get it. It made me feel ashamed and embarrassed about my body. And I was only twelve!
Every day I would be greeted by these images. TV models used in commercials for the selling of beer, makeup, or cars, actresses dieting down to look skinny for movies, and magazines letting you falsely believe that all women look flawless and perfect.
It is all a lie.
But it hasn’t been easy for me to recognize that. It’s taken years to finally realize just how fake all of these things really are.
How could they not be real? I mean they’re on TV and how do you know if the magazine is really photo-shopping them? They say they don’t but another source tells you they are. And they look so real!
Or do they?
Is that what real women look like? When I look around me, at the store, at the doctor’s office, that’s not even close to what I see. I see women with dark spots, women with cellulite, women who are NOT perfect.
And we’re not supposed to be.
Perfection can only be met by these photo-shoppers. That’s why they need to do it; because the girls really do have flaws and blemishes and are “too” big or small for the camera.
And that is sad. It makes me angry every time I see an image like this. I can’t even imagine how degrading that must feel for those women on the cover. To be picked apart and airbrushed to look like someone completely different than their true self.
But it’s even harder for us girls.
Having to constantly be bombarded with these pictures, these seamlessly immaculate women, it takes its toll and over time, the effects of this can cause more body image issues, more eating issues, and more self worth issues.
To be recovering from this exact “want” and “need” to be skinny, with the media breathing down my back every minute, telling me what I should look like, is not easy. It steers me in all sorts of directions.
One day I am so angry that I have to listen to all these ads and see all these fake women around me and then other days I fall in the trap and wish I was like them again.
It’s a never ending cycle that feeds the eating disorder and body image voices.
They sit on your shoulder ad whisper in your ear, “why don’t you look like that women?” “She’s more perfect than you.” “You don’t have beautiful skin, or eyelashes, or legs, a flat stomach, a thigh gap, or invisible cellulite. There’s no way you’re even close to being pretty compared to them!”
Learning to make these voices stop can be a full time job. At least for me it was.
I had to be on the lookout at all times. When I went to the store I had to pick the lines that didn’t have these magazines. I had to make a great effort to look away and if I did catch a glimpse, I had to convince myself that they were artificial, not real.
When I watched TV or movies, I had to remind myself that these women are on a constant diet and are starving themselves to look that way.
They suffer for their own bodies because the media tells them to.
It was a continual battle I fought with my mind each and every day, until I finally came to a point of peace with it all.
I just started seeing these images as imposters. They just clearly weren’t real.
And there are more and more articles, websites, pinterest images that depict the problems behind them. There are people out there that make it their jobs to discover the errors of these things.
Photo-shopping has its slipups and it’s becoming more evident to what they are doing. Models are coming forward and revealing what they have to do in order to keep their thin bodies and actresses are beginning to tell us what really happens behind the camera.
My advice to women and girls is to really take the time to realize that these images are fake. And there may be a real women behind all of the airbrushing and makeup, but on the surface, these photos aren’t real.
Real women are not perfect and that is what makes us beautiful.
If you are suffering from an eating disorder, it’s even more important that you stay away from images like these. Remember why you are fighting. You are unique and lovely. You don’t want to look fake in order to be considered beautiful.
You are already beautiful. Flaws and all.
Tayla Anne is a writer, artist and fitness enthusiast. After finding freedom from an eight year battle with anorexia, she now writes about her experiences, self love, acceptance, and how you too, can break free from your own eating disorder. Follow her blog, She’ll Be Free for more inspirational posts and ideas.