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This week is dedicated to eating disorder awareness. What does that mean?
It means we need to break the stigma around eating disorders and diet culture once and for all, not only for ourselves but for the future generations. Like all mental health disorders, eating disorders are easy to hide but incredibly dangerous if not caught soon enough. They can have not only immediate consequence but also long term consequences that can affect a person's life forever.
Currently in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, there are eight listed eating disorders, two of which are OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder) and UFED (Unspecified Feeding and Eating Disorder). Each of these are then broken down into subtypes.
Due to this vast array of information and the hoops to jump through/criteria you have to meet, you can imagine that getting a diagnosis (if you ever actually choose to seek help in the first place) is pretty tricky and an incredibly daunting prospect. First, you have to find someone who believes your story enough to take you seriously, which can sometimes involve having to be "sick enough" in that person's eyes and then if you do get a diagnosis... you have to constantly convince friends and family that what you have is a real thing and to take it seriously.
Whether you realize you have an eating disorder or not, even the smallest of "innocent" comments can end up being a trigger for you. A simple "Wow! You look great. Have you lost weight?" can make you think that the disordered eating issues you have are worth it and to keep going because you are receiving compliments so it must be okay. Or maybe you're at a family gathering and you're having a really good time until someone blurts out "Wow! You can really pack it away, can't you?" which tells you to slow down and not eat as much because obviously people think you're overweight and eat too much.
Is that really the message we want to send people? And I know, I know, "I never meant it like that and if that is how they take it, then it's their own fault." Right?
You have a responsibility as a fellow human to ensure that your words uplift, empower, encourage, inspire, and spread love rather than cause pain. Taking just five seconds to think about what you are saying before you say it can save a person a lifetime of heartache, health issues, pain, and most importantly, their life.
So, what is the measure of a woman? Or even a man?
Do we measure a person's worth by their BMI (Body Mass Index) or the number on a tape measure? According to modern society, social media, celebrity endorsements... YES.
Open your social media accounts these days and you will see countless people (celebrities and influencers) pimping this pill, this detox drink, this diet, this... that... and everything in between. Countless images portraying the "ideal" body image and if you didn't fit that then you better buy this product quick so you can get it.
But to every person selling the "ideal product" to achieve the "ideal body," there are those who are fighting against it. People like the actresses from the DC universe TV shows who have set up "Shethority" and Jameela Jamil from The Good Place who has set up "I Weigh," to people like Jessamyn Stanley, a body positive yoga instructor and one of my personal fave humans.
So... for the rest of this week, I ask you to take a stand. Support your fellow humans and break the stigma around eating disorders. Uplift your friends and family with words of love and appreciation. Empower your fellow humans with the power to love themselves.
Break the stigma.