Part of the purpose of this blog/book is to bring to light the personal struggles with food and weight that we all have in common. Psychologists use the word “normalize,” which Mirriam-Webster defines as: “to make conform to or reduce to a norm or standard.” To me, having something normalized is that phenomenon when you find out someone has had an experience similar to you, causing you to exclaim, “Oh, you do that, too?” The process of normalization is what makes support groups (and group therapy, for that matter) so effective. We realize that others are in a similar boat, and there’s a certain comfort in that. In a related way, writing (and speaking) about disordered eating/body image concerns illuminates just how common these struggles are, which hopefully provides a kind of individual solace. It also, in my opinion, weakens the grip of the issues themselves.
A metaphor I like is a storm out at sea—before hitting land, the storm has plenty of time to fester, to build up strength. But upon landfall, the storm’s power/speed/damaging potential weakens, to the point where by the time it reaches you, it may not be so harrowing at all. Through open and honest discussion, we enervate the storm.
I’d like to normalize food fixation, body hatred, and other concepts we’ve been discussing here. As individuals we may feel “crazy” or “dysfunctional” for holding such “odd” beliefs or engaging in such behaviors (as some have commented recently, who would have thought that such violent images of fat removal were so common?), but if we realize that we’re not alone, we may be more prone to discuss/work with our thoughts and feelings, which, ultimately can free us of our obsessions.