Across social media there seem to be more people ‘in recovery’ from eating disorders making ‘challenge’ videos and posts.
For example, videos of:
‘I am going to eat like x minor celebrity for a day’;
‘I am going to eat a (insert weird and messed up diet) for a day’,
‘I am going to only eat burgers for a day’ etc etc..
You get my drift!
I have always felt a little uneasy about these innocently meant posts.
I understand that they can be helpful to some and I do know that they are innocently meant and even made with the best intentions but are they entirely helpful?
Or are these ‘public challenges’ making light of eating disorders, which are serious, disabling and can be fatal?
I am the first person to enjoy appropriate humour at the daily grind of dealing with the #EDbollocks that we all face every moment of every day and sometimes if we don’t laugh or don’t challenge ourselves then we really can get overwhelmed and very depressed.
However, I think that there is a line between that and making entertainment out of the illness and the recovery process.
I do worry that these posts, to an outsider, might appear that eating disorders are a choice that can be switched off when we choose to do so, just by being challenged to eat nothing but McDonalds for a day.
Plus aren’t these kinds of videos or instagram posts merely glamorising a shitty illness?
The people making these posts rarely show the bigger picture of the illness.
We are not being shown the battle with other behaviours around the eating and there is little acknowledgment that eating disorders are about overcoming much more than just eating a McDonalds!
Many of these posts also walk a fine line between making their audience feel inadequate in terms of their own recovery and inspiring or motivating them.
I’m all for making light of recovery where we can, not wallowing & challenging ourselves but that needs to be fitting for where we are at and around our personal situation and our lives.
If we are to copy what X celebrity eats, who let’s face it, may have disordered eating themselves, is it really going to be helpful?!?
I do challenge myself but making it into a form of entertainment is not what recovery is about for me because recovery is not very entertaining!
Recovery accounts that I find most helpful are ones that are raw and honest… people pushing themselves as best they can each day, facing the terror and the fear and showing their good and bad days.
Accounts that I find inspiring are people I can really relate to in recovery and I know that anyone who is making it look as if recovery is light hearted fun and extreme challenges on a daily basis is not being honest… Because I have yet to meet a genuine person in eating disorder recovery, who is not regularly going through some of the most intense levels of distress it is possible for anyone to tolerate.
Yes, push yourself in recovery.
Yes – eat McDonalds for a day if that is what your body is asking for and that is a good challenge for you at that stage of your recovery.
And yes, post about it because if you are doing those things and that is a huge step forward in your recovery journey then that is amazing and worth shouting out about!!
I love to hear about people’s huge victories in challenging their illness and when you have seen people struggle on their bad days, it is amazing to also see their successes on a good day…
But the ‘challenge’ posts and videos?? These need more care when they are made…
Anyone who can switch off their eating disorder for the sake of social media fame should be careful of the impression they are giving to both their recovering peers and the wider public about eating disorders and what recovery really takes.
Overall, I can see the good and bad of these challenge videos and posts and I know my opinions here are going to be controversial but I think it is important too that those of us with an eating disorder watching these videos etc, also need to do so with an open mind.
Don’t let them make you feel less than adequate in your recovery and if you watch them – remember that what you see on camera is so far removed from what is happening behind the camera!