I feel like pretty often, when I’m scrolling through instagram or clicking through people’s stories, I find pictures of people’s tummies, butts, thighs, boobs, you name it.
A lot of people in the recovery world like to share pictures of their bodies in a way that promotes self love in an authentic way. Most of these photos are accompanied by a caption about embracing the squishy parts of ourselves because they are *normal.*
I can’t help but wonder sometimes, is posting these body positive photos just another way for us to obsess over the way we look? Sure, people share them to show that everyone’s stomach has some rolls when they bend over, but do we really want to continuously focus on our bodies in recovery?
While I can appreciate the intention of the people who post these photos, I can’t help but question the impact it has on other people. I think these photos can do a few things.
Is seeing a photo of someone going to make you want to body check? Will you stand in the mirror asking “does my *recovery tummy* look like hers?”
I think these photos can (accidentally) perpetuate the idea that we need to compare our bodies. We all love to preach that every body looks different, but admit it: when you see someone post a pic of their recovery body, you’re examining it and comparing it to yours.
We all do it. I’m not trying to shame anyone. We’ve all been there. We’ve scrolled past a photo and wondered, why did her body do this thing in recovery and mine didn’t? Why does this person’s body look like this when they stand like that, and mine doesn’t? It can make us wonder: what’s wrong with my body?
(answer: nothing. Just like we can understand that everyone’s eating disorder looks different, everyone’s recovery is different too. Everyone’s body will gain weight differently, distribute weight differently, heal differently, etc.)
While I’m the first person to admit that body compliments can feel good (even if we know they’re stupid), I can’t help but cringe a little bit when I see people posting comments on these photos saying “you’re so beautiful!” or “your body looks so (insert adjective here).”
I’m all for lifting people up, but posting these photos elicits body feedback, and last time I checked, I don’t care what other people think about my body.
I think these photos can sometimes be an unconscious way for people to reassure their EDs. If they post a photo and get the feedback that their body is *okay* or *good* or whatever message these comments send, we’re basically reassuring people that their body can be moralized and is more than just a body. Newsflash: it’s not.
Isn’t the whole point of recovery to recognize that we are MORE than our bodies? How are we supposed to really adopt this mindset if we’re posting these photos and judging whether someone’s body looks okay or not?
Why do we care so much about bodies?!?!?!
But the point is this: getting that body feedback from people (“you’re so pretty, you’re so this, etc”) reinforces the sneakiest part of diet culture, which is: looks are the most important thing about us.
That statement is FALSE. False with a big, old capital F-A-L-S-E. One of my favorite anti-diet phrases is “your weight is the least interesting thing about you,” and I stand by that same phrase when it comes to bodies.
I’d rather see a post about your awesome recovery win of the day or your struggle or your birthday or just an update than a photo of your body that is secretly aimed at reassuring your ED that your body looks okay.
I understand that some people are able to post these photos and not give in to these less-than-favorable side effects. Some people truly do post these photos to show others that there are all different kinds of bodies that we can appreciate and respect. I’m all for that.
I just think that it can be tough to catch our EDs sometimes when they try to sneak in. Sometimes we might have some kind of body/food/exercise thought and it’s important to take a second to say “Wait, is this actually how I feel/what I want? Or is this my ED?”
The truth is that all bodies are ALWAYS going to look different. Just like an ED affects different people in different ways, recovery is different for everyone. I’m not a huge fan of posting these body photos just because I can only imagine how triggering it might be for someone in early recovery to see it and think that THAT’s what recovery looks like. Recovery looks like a lot of things.
Some people enter recovery and their body changes a lot, and that might be really hard for them. Seeing photos of other people’s bodies for them to compare themselves to might do more harm than good.
What do you all think about these photos? Do they trigger you? Do you think they are posted out of insecurity, or do you think people really want to spread body acceptance? Let me know!