It’s National Eating Disorder Week, something I want to call attention to for a few reasons. One is because of the seriousness of eating disorders, which can be fatal. The other is because so many people—women and men, children and adults—suffer from what might be considered “subclinical” eating disorders, or disordered eating. In other words, eating behaviors and patterns that cause emotional or mental distress and possibly even physical harm.
While there are many root causes of both eating disorders and disordered eating behaviors, including genetics, we can’t ignore the role played by our cultural obsession with thin. Anyone who doesn’t fit the thin ideal is vulnerable to self-criticism and/or criticism from others, which can lead to a damaged relationship with both food and body.
Humans come in all shapes and sizes, and I dream of a day when we collectively become more accepting body diversity. If we don’t expect everyone to have brown eyes or a wear a size-7 shoe, why would we expect everyone to have the same body size? Another way to bring clarity to the idea that humans are not one size fits all is to think of dogs. Would you tell a bulldog that they should look like a Chihuahua? A mastiff that they should look like a poodle? Of course you wouldn’t, because that would be ridiculous. Thus, the Problem with Poodle Science: