Warning for discussion of diet culture, body shaming and eating disorders.
It’s that time of the year again! The sun is out, the sunburn is inevitable, and the bedsheets are off!
Despite not being the best in heat, I do love Summer! It’s always fun to go outside, have water fights, and not have to pile on the layers. However, despite it being a care-free season, for a lot of people who struggle with mental health, it is a difficult time.
One thing I especially find difficult is accepting the way I look and being okay to stroll around in shorts or crop tops. I have this looming dread that everyone is staring at me and noticing all the imperfections I see myself. From starting eating disorder recovery, inevitably, I have gained weight. It was needed for me to become healthy mentally and physically. It came with the energy from food I needed to eat to survive. But instead of talking about how I’ve coped with accepting how I look (because truthfully, I haven’t been feeling all that confident recently, but hey, I’m working on it), I thought It’d be interesting to discuss how I’ve been trying to keep up with recovery in a world that shames weight gain.
We are hit constantly with adverts to be ‘beach body ready’, encouraging us to lose weight and shaming us if we do the opposite. So when in this recovery, how do we ignore and reject the repetitive ads and societal pressure?
We can’t even go into a supermarket without ‘less that X calories!’ ‘skinny shakes!’ ‘X% less fat!’ ‘this one makes you shit yourself but we’re not gonna go into that!’ And suddenly, it’s normalised to feel bad about going for the original option when there’s always one with reduced stuff in. It’s normalised to, in the words of Sainsbury’s, “be good”… I understand that eating disorder recovery is also about accepting that the world around you will always have triggers; sadly we can’t block ourselves away from diet culture and calorie labels as we recover, but with companies profiting off of our insecurities (thank you Matt Haig for that one), Summer can be triggering and terrifying.
The way I try to rationalise my mind when I am feeling awful for eating more and gaining weight is by picturing this idealised world; this world that’s designed for recovery. It sounds dumb I know, but imagine if we were constantly hit with ads like “You’re ALREADY beach body ready” Or if products were plastered with “This is food! You need food to survive! You can enjoy this!” Or even “100% less fucks given!” Think of food as a progression towards recovery rather than a step towards being “bad”. The current world isn’t always adjusted for us, so sometimes we have to picture one that is. We’re on a different path to other people; those dieting labels and reduced fat foods are not for us to consider.
In recovery, we can’t just change the way we see ourselves, but the way we see the world too. And I promise you, if you’re fighting your eating disorder and feel bad for gaining this weight this Summer; the weight is needed. You don’t need to feel ashamed.