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Going on a Binge

“Going on a binge.” 

I hear that phrase getting tossed around quite a bit especially in the college world where it is usually accompanied by a lot of booze in a very short time frame. 

But Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a very real thing and it doesn’t get a lot of air time. It’s estimated that 1-5% of Americans suffer from BED, of those 60% are women, 40% are men. (NEDA)Image

BED is “type of eating disorder that is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.” (National Eating Disorder Association) So in laymen’s terms, this is consuming a lot of calories in a very short amount of time, without self induced vomiting or laxative abuse (or some other weight control measure) directly following the binge. 

Symptoms of BED: 

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior. (NEDA)

To be clear, the key word in diagnosing BED is recurrent. The occasional Ben & Jerry’s pint, mountain of french fries, or pre-PMS food monster do not fall into this category. Especially us women have had the occasional food attack where we must consumer everything in our sights, but that doesn’t mean we all have BED. BED consists of frequent, recurring episodes of eating a very large amount of food. We’re talking 1,000s of calories in a sitting. According to DSM-V there are several behavioral and emotional signs the frequency must be at least once a week for 3 months, eating a larger amount of food than normal during a short time frame (any two-hour period), lack of control over eating during the binge episode (feeling you can’t stop eating or control what or how much you are eating). (Binge Eating Disorder Association)

Just like any eating disorder, treatment is almost always necessary for recovery. If you or someone you know suspects that they may be suffering from BED or any eating disorder, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Most treatment options are considered outpatient, meaning that they do not require overnight stays. Treatment can include: 

  • “Level of care” assessment and treatment planning
  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Support or therapy groups
  • Family/couples therapy
  • Family member support/education
  • Specialized nutrition counseling
  • Medical/psychiatric support and medication management as needed

The first step in receiving any care is to talk with someone you trust about it and then schedule an appointment with your family doctor where they will prescribe the route of treatment. 

As always, 

No matter what anyone says or thinks, 

Not your mom,

Your sister, 

Your grandma, 

Your dad, brothers, grandpa, 

Your friends,

Not even you,

Not matter what they think,

You are beautiful.

You are worth knowing it, believing it. 

So keep your chin up. 

Embrace you

Stay smiling beautiful. 

 

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You’re More than Photoshop.

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The main promotional image used for Victoria Secret’s 2010 “I Love My Body” campaign

Victoria’s Secret is one of the biggest sellers of “sexy” in the America. They know this; America knows this. Therefore, what Victoria’s Secret sells as sexy, America literally and subconsciously “buys” as sexy. The women in this photo are extraordinarily thin and tall. I’ve never seen a woman look like these women. They have perfect skin, breasts, legs, hair, and stomachs. They don’t even have pores. In the real world, these women do not even exist. They are created. They are created using photo editing techniques (commonly referred to as Photoshop) to shrink their already tiny waists, erase any moles or lines, and airbrush a smooth look over their entire bodies. Why does this photo manipulation work? It’s because it is just real enough. It teeters on the edge of imitation and genuine. Women want to think that they could look like these models even though it is an unreasonable, even unattainable standard of beauty. 

This week in class I was given the privilege of playing with Photoshop, so I took it upon myself to see if I could manipulate an image of myself and my family from my wedding over the summer. As a Photoshop noob, I figured the realm of cinching waists and airbrushing skin was beyond my abilities. I was wrong. Within 20 minutes I had smoothed my grandmothers’ wrinkles – taking off an easy 25 years from their appearance. I had also managed to shrink my waist, slightly accentuate my breasts and hips, smooth my complexion,and overall give me a celebrity worthy experience. 

But here’s the problem. 

It wasn’t me. 

It wasn’t my grandmothers. 

They were creations. Representations of who I made them. 

They weren’t real. 

My grandmothers’ wrinkles are signs of their wisdom and years of experience. They give them character. They make them unique. And Beautiful. 

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the average American woman is 5’4″ tall, weighs 166 pounds, and has a waist circumference of 37.5″. Alessandra Ambrosio (one of the women in the above photo) is 5’10”, 112 pounds, and has 24″ waist! How is it acceptable for the largest seller of lingerie in America to perpetuate this ridiculous fantasy? In September 2013, one VS model even exclaimed to Telegraph UK: “I don’t look like that picture.” 

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Love My Body vs. Real Beauty Campaigns

Women in America are suffering from “Photoshop Syndrome.” We are seduced by images of impossibly beautiful women with impossibly perfect features but that’s just it. They are impossible. Real women don’t look like that.

Some are slender, some are curvy, some lie in between…but all of them are beautiful.

And while Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has met with some criticism, its overarching claim is that real women are beautiful and should always remember it. We should stop focusing on our “flaws” and focusing on the beautiful fact that , as Stella Boonshoft puts it, “Our bodies are all beautiful because they are vessels for our souls. They allow us to feel, express, hurt, love, laugh, cry, and most importantly create change in the world.”

So go out – women of America!

Go out and love your body. 

Go walk your dog, dance in your underwear, sing in the car, workout, binge on ice cream!

Do what makes you happy. 

Do what makes you feel beautiful. 

Be kind to your body. 

Love your body. 

It is the only one you get.

You’re beautiful. 

You’re more than Photoshop.

You’re you. 

Unique. Exclusive. Alluring. Dazzling. 

Beautiful.

You.

Stay smiling! Happy looks great on you