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Please Consider This Before Posting That 'Before and After' Eating Disorder Photo

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During NEDA (National Eating Disorder Awareness) Week, I am always bombarded on social media with people posting their “recovery photos” online — depicting recovery by posting a photo of them in their eating disorder and where they are now. Sometimes, these photos show someone at a drastically lower weight, sometimes not. I believe the intentions behind these photos are good. I too have posted these photos before. It is empowering and triumphant when you can look at where you have been and where you are now and think, “Wow, what a half life I was living and what an incredible life I am living now.”

However, I’ve noticed eating disorders are can be a “competitive” illnesses, and these photos promote competition and comparison to those still struggling and those in recovery. I used to believe my illness was not valid because I didn’t have the same medical complications some other people did, I wasn’t as thin as other people or I hadn’t been struggling as long as this person — feeding the horrible belief that I was unworthy of recovery. This thought process perpetuated my eating disorder for much longer than it needed to go on. There is no photo that can depict what you truly feel on the inside — and this is the main flaw with depicting eating disorders on social media. It perpetuates the belief that it is a purely physical disease, when the truth is I was the most unwell mentally and physically when I was at a normal weight in my disorder. That led me to feeling trapped and like a fake because I thought I had to be “sickly thin” in order to be “sick enough.”

The truth is, we were already sick enough when we first became unwell unwell. 

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 max-kegfire

Originally published: February 23, 2017
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