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How It Feels to See 'Bikini Body' Advertisements as Someone in Eating Disorder Recovery

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From my newsfeed to advertisements to conversations on the street, talk of preparing a “summer body” or “bikini body” is on the rise.

The promises they offer look great. A playful day by the ocean. Effortless photos with friends. The admiration of strangers. Radiance. Confidence. Love. Acceptance.

The problem is a diet plan and a strict workout regimen will not make your life perfect. It will not make others love you. And it certainly won’t make you love yourself.

I know this because I’ve done it. Compulsive exercise, obsessive eating and constant self-judgment controlled my life. My eating disorder took me to that place, and it was filled with doctors appointments, injuries, exhaustion, pain and isolation. A far cry from a life without problems and full of love.

But these ads and conversations and fantasies are exactly what my eating disorder wants me to believe. It clings to the idea that getting to a certain weight or looking a certain way will solve my problems, heal my trauma and make me feel love and belonging. It tells me this time will be different. I won’t go that far.

Listening to that voice will not only hurt me, it will kill me. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health condition. It’s not a small risk. It’s risking my life.

The thoughts that come with my eating disorder make it hard to remember all the horrible things it did to me. The idea that “this diet” or “that workout” will solve what you’re struggling with is dangerous. It’s a lie. It leads down a path of secrecy, pain and loneliness, and the fantasy of the perfect “summer body” is not worth the places it might take you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via Oleandra9.

Originally published: April 7, 2017
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