Thursday, December 09, 2010

Kudos to Intimacy

Check out the Manhattan lingerie store, Intimacy!  I wandered by the store one day and was struck by the fact that the window display showcases two mannequins of different sizes. Imagine that:  various-sized mannequins modeling various-sized clothing for various-sized of women.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

More on Moore

I recently came across this update on singer-actress, Mandy Moore.  I'm happy whenever stars speak out about having (or coming to) a healthy relationship with food (especially if it's true!), so I was excited to read this news.

And then it struck me:  The fact that Mandy Moore allows herself to eat a hamburger now and then is news.  I haven't heard much about her work these days, and until this article, I didn't even know she wed.  Yet, the people over at People believe that the most compelling feature about Moore is what she puts between her lips.

Are they right?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What's Your Purpose?

I've been thinking a lot recently about the relationship between spirituality and eating disorders.  Namely, can a sense of spirituality be a ("a", not "the") curative force in recovery?

I'm not talking about religion per se, but more a sense of what your purpose is here on Earth.  For some, it's to be a good person, live a good life.  Others may believe they need to learn a valuable lesson.  Those who are less spiritually inclined may think that they're here simply to continue the species.  For many with eating disorders, life becomes so constricted (restricted) that the purpose becomes eating less, weighing less. . .and a sense of greater purpose is ignored.

I keep circling back to the idea that if you are to get in touch with a greater purpose, that can help with recovery.  I'll often say to someone that I'm not sure what her purpose here is, but I just know it can't be to restrict, maintain a certain weight, or hate her body.  That's can't be the point of life, and I'm sure of it.  Nearing death, it just can't be that you look back over your life and evaluate your stay based on weight.

Can getting in touch with your greater purpose, or at least being open to the idea that it has to be more than this, help you?

Thursday, October 07, 2010

You're Invited!

Welcome back, DEWHAED readers!  I'm up to some exciting new things. . . including planning a weekend-long seminar to address what we talk about here.  Save the date for:

Lose the diet.
Love your body.
Eat in peace.

When:  The weekend of January 21st
Where:  The beautiful Berkshires
Why:     Finally addressing your eating/body issues; an opportunity to connect with like-minded folk; a year's worth of therapy in 48 hours; a chance for me to meet and eat with you all!

Hope you all are enjoying your season. . .  crisp apples and hot drinks. . .  cozying up again in sweaters or flannels or Snuggies and for a moment, maybe just a moment, honoring and enjoying the body that is yours. . . .

Monday, May 24, 2010


On this, the last post before my summer break, I'm reflecting on women's freedom. It's amazing how far we've come, what with women competing for some of the highest posts in the land; in many industries, earning close, but not equal to, men's salaries; balancing work and motherhood and social engagements; traversing grounds we never thought the xx could ever go.

So, that said, why is it that every once in a while, I fantasize about wearing a burqa to work?

This piece of clothing that represents, through my Westernized lens, the epitome of women's imprisonment seems the perfect choice on days I want to be comfortable, relaxed, and to hide my body from the world. 

I went to an eating disorders/body image lecture a couple of weeks ago and the presenters noted that with each advancement in the women's movement, there has been an consequent increase in eating disorders.  They also reported that today, Asian teenagers, at 16, are being gifted eye surgery by their parents so that their eyelids look more like their Caucasian friends'.  Is this what we have to show for centuries of cultural and political advancement?  How is it that the more we plow ahead, the more we dislike ourselves?

And so, for women in America, as you celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, take a moment to wonder:  Are you really free?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Look Alive, Men!

New York Magazine recently revealed that British company, Rootstein, which makes mannequins, is set to launch "Homme Nouveau," a new men's mannequin sporting a 27-inch-waist.  The more slenderized version of the 1994 model is suggested to reflect, and likely worsen, a more unrealistic male body standard. 

Do you see men as devloping a more negative body image over time?  Are they, in a game with no clear winner, catching up?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Baby Food

In a recent People magazine article, actress Ellen Pompeo speaks about feeding her seven-month-old daughter, Stella. Pompeo focuses on feeding her daughter natural, organic foods and teaching her about healthy eating.
Pompeo's goal is to introduce only healthy foods (read: no Cheerios) to her daughter--just as Pompeo was fed as a child--as that resulted in her never knowing (or therefore, wanting) "junk food."

While many of those with eating disorders will tell you that a no-junk-food policy results in junk-food rebellion later on, what I found most interesting about this article was not so much the original story, but the eighty-something (at this writing) comments that readers submitted. As always, food/eating are emotional/political topics that often result in polarization. What do YOU think?

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Price of Beauty

Has anyone watched Jessica Simpson's, The Price of Beauty? I found the episode filmed in Uganda particularly enlightening. In the village Simpson visits, fat is beautiful, and women are fattened up before their weddings. Of interest is not just the cultural acceptance/value of fat, but how hard women have to work to gain weight before they wed, the polar opposite of Western dieting culture. Check out clips from the episode here. Reactions?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Body Education

I was sitting on the roof of my building with a friend, when a nine-year-old girl came up with her sitter. Her sitter wandered around and the girl approached us and began gabbing away in the hallmark style of a precocious nine-year-old girl. I forget how we arrived here, but the next thing you know, we're talking about pubic hair.

"I saw my mom naked once and she had hair down there!" she said in surprise.

"When you get older, you'll have hair down there, too," I replied.

"Ooh, that's gross. I have a little hair there now."

"It's just what happens to girls as they get older."

While I'm not sure this was the best way to handle the topic (and if the girl's mother would have even wanted me to respond), it made me consider how mothers are with their bodies and what tacit messages they send their daughters.

Truth be told, it surprised me that this girl had only seen her mother naked once. It made me think that her mother may be ashamed of her body, and that she was communicating to her daughter that a woman's body was something to be covered, not celebrated. Sure, we don't want our daughters parading naked around the block, but there's something to be said for them knowing and therefore fully accepting the female form. I can't help but wonder that if girls, from early on, witness their mothers' unabashed bodies (pubic hair and cellulite and bra-less breasts and all), they'll have fewer problems with body image later on.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Your Choice?

Are eating disorders choices? Do you choose to develop an eating disorder, or to continue to engage in your symptoms, or are eating disorders strictly diseases, without any decision involved?

I think most of us would agree that by the time someone is knee deep in her eating disorder, there isn't much choice involved. And yes, there are factors such as genetic influences, familial circumstances, and comorbidity with other psychological disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety, substance abuse), all of which make eating disorders appear to be a fait accompli.

Eating disorders are diseases, right? Why would anyone choose to develop a disease? No one is questioning someone's depression or schizophrenia, and certainly not her Parkinson's or cancer.

But, for many who suffer from eating disorders, there's a moment, early on, when we make a choice--a choice to restrict, to binge, to purge, because in the moment, these behaviors seem to be the best option available to us.

Maybe it's just semantics, as this choice is made without informed consent, without recognition of what will follow. For others, even if there is an understanding of consequences, we might make the same choice, anyway, not really thinking the consequences will apply to us. Does a choice count if you don't even know you're making a choice?

When recovery is on the table, and we continue to engage in symptoms, is this a choice, or are our eating disorders speaking for us? Do you choose to hold on to an eating disorder, or does the disorder hold on to you?

Monday, March 29, 2010


Ryerson university in Toronto conducted a study on the effects of television characters on body image.  Specifically, the study found that watching just a 10-minute clip of Friends (specifically Jennifer Aniston and Courteney) cox caused women to feel bad about their bodies.  The study's author is quoted as saying, "People have the tendency to make rapid comparisons of themselves to images on television programs even when they don't think they are being affected."

Are there any current shows or stars that you think women with body image concerns should avoid?  Have you noticed yourself having negative body thoughts (in e.d. language, being "triggered") by any of these shows or characters?  Is there a pull to watch them despite their emotional impact?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Good Vs. Bad

I'm becoming increasing annoyed by descriptions of food as "good" or "bad."  When someone says, "I was good," I often ask what that means, because my definition of good is not necessarily yours.  For some women who struggle with eating disorders, restriction is good.  Not for me. 

Healthy.  Unhealthy.  What do they mean?  As soon as there's a good, there's a bad, and that sets us up for the moralization of food.  While I'm not suggesting everyone eat fried food at every meal, food choices should reflect the variety of our cravings. 

There is no good or bad, just food.  Dichotomizing nutrition can lead to disordered eating.  In fact, one food choice has no value over another.  All foods are equal.  How about that?  Let's end our food discrimination, because as everyone knows, choosing one group over another (with the exception of skinny over fat) is so 20th century. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Do Something!

Petitions, Conferences, and More!

Check out the National Eating Disorder Information Centre's (Canada) new campaign.  You can sign a petition on their site that directly targets the fashion industry, encouraging repsonsible selection (and retouching) of models in the advertising world. 

Also, as I mentioned earlier, I will be speaking at a conference later this month in NYC dedicated to friends/family members of those struggling with eating disorders.  Please pass on the Journey to Hope conference information to your family and friends--presentations will help them cope with your eating disorder and hopefully improve your relationships in the process.  See here for more information.

If you'd like to get involved with Reaching Out Against Eating  Disorders (one of the organizations responsible for hosting the conference), see their website for how to volunteer.

Begin your revolution now!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Media Inquiry

Like Mother/Like Daughter? Help a reporter with a story on the mother daughter eating/body image connection. . .

A reporter is doing a story for Glamour Magazine on the connection between mothers and daughters when it comes to issues around eating and body image. She is interested in the kind of habits and attitudes that seem to plague many women -bingeing, consta-dieting, emotional eating, obsessive exercising, body-loathing, not strictly clinical eating disorders. If you are in your 20s or 30s, deal with these issues and SO DOES YOUR MOM, she'd love to speak to you. If you'd be willing to talk--on record or off--email Diana Kapp, at

Monday, February 22, 2010

All About Weight

It seems the most important thing about celebrities these days is their weight.  Kevin Smith was kicked off a Southwest flight for being "too fat."  "You [messed] with the wrong sedentary processed-foods eater!" he tweeted. 

The 5'6", 105-pound American ice dancer Tanith Belbin, who admitted to restricting her intake, was given an ultimatum by her coach to gain 10 pounds.  Still underweight, Belbin reported she's skating more strongly.  You know it's serious when your ice skating coach is forcing you to eat.

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks vented to New York magazine:  "Anytime someone talks about your figure constantly, you get nervous, you get really self-conscious.  I was working my butt off on the show, and then all anyone was talking about was my body."

Jessica Simpson, who, if you remember, soared to fame with her voice, came crashing down with her weight.  In a recent issue of Allure, Simpson referred to America's weight-obsession as "disgusting."

These are just a few examples I've seen in the media in the last few weeks.  Can you remember a time when we haven't had such a focus on everyone's weight?  How do we get back to that place?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Let's Move

What do you all think about Michelle Obama's campaign to reduce the incidence of childhood obesity?  If you're unfamiliar with the campaign, here it is:

I support most of her ideas (especially increasing physical activity among kids, making a variety of foods more available to less advanatged populations, etc.), but keep getting stuck on schools' initiative regarding cutting out sweets (e.g., cupcakes on birthdays) and taking variety away from the kids (e.g., in the vending machines), rather than promoting the idea of treats in moderation.  Eliminating certain food groups tends to backfire, resulting in overeating when there finally is access to these foods.  Thoughts?

Monday, February 08, 2010


The last six weeks have been filled with the requisite New Year's diet and fitness interviews, which should taper off soon.  But, before I'm through, I'd like to put in a special plug for Zumba Fitness.

I love Zumba.  Have you tried it?  For the uninformed, it's a Latin-inspired (but internationally flavored) dance party (that, by the way, takes place in a traditional aerobics room), replete with a funky blend of salsa, merengue, a little hip hop here and there, hip gyrations, shoulder shimmies, and, in a class I recently attended, the late 80s' snake (are you old enough to remember that move?) 

So many people are uninspired by the gym these days, stale in their workouts, looking for something new.  Sick of not getting anywhere on the elliptical?  Of running the same course outdoors?  Zumba may be the answer.  I'm a big proponent of finding exercise motivation through activities you like, and if you're into dance/music, Zumba may be for you.

What inspired me particularly to write this post was attending a class at my local gym a couple of weeks ago--a studio that was packed with 60 or so women (and one man--straight men, if you can shake it, this is a great way to meet the ladies!), a much more heterogeneous bunch than the typical group fitness crowd.  In a studio that's usually filled with women who look vaguely alike, this class stood out--there were Latina women, women of color, fat women, skinny women, conforming only in the chorus of their moves and the smiles on their faces.  The class was upbeat/playful/sexy, requiring more concentration on mirroring the instructor than staring in the mirror.  For this, I give Zumba a body-image A+, with a focus more on what your body can do, rather than how it looks.

Check out a class near you!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Melissa Broder--Poems on E.D.'s

Melissa Broder, author of the newly published, When You Say One Thing But Mean Your Mother, sent me a couple of her poems that relate to e.d.'s.  See below for the inspiration for her work.

Core vs. Flex
Madame Famine is hairless apart
from her lanugo, and when she sucks you into
her glory hole, a bald telephone, it’s

wrong. You’re supposed to be the one who’s lived
a thing or two, you’re supposed to be teaching her
to grow. There’s no room to live inside

her little Grey Gardens, so try and
let go. Stop lining up lacy aprons
with training bras and just have a damn happy

accident. You are frightened of going
over. You are not as fragile as you think.
Madame Famine should be left to rot in her

dream car with a frozen Jenny Craig
glazed salmon. Of course, she would rather
ride the bumper cars with your husband.

Prayer of the Teenage Waifs

We want security and we want out!
The groceries have cobwebs. French toast sticks
and sickie chicken sausages turn lettuce
for breakfast. Put dinner in a locket,
then sniff to get to clavicle heaven
where Mommy gets pinched and shock treatments
are ice capades, Sweet’N Low sensations

of Fatherland. Oh Fatherland! She’s been
a bad babysitter. Deliver us
from Burger King with People magazine.
Let the basement be our basement, the bones
and ringtones our only breath in mirrors;
let mammaries unbloom, let fumes be food
and we’ll massacre into cylinders.

Regarding the inspiration, Melissa writes:
In Core vs. Flex, the character of Madame Famine came to me in a dream. To me she’s restrictive eating-personified, though my publisher and editor, who are both male, think she is a well-groomed nether-region. The poem was actually longer in another incarnation, involving Oreos, but that piece didn’t make the cut.

Prayer of the Teenage Waifs arose experimentally. I used one of my favorite writing devices, which is to comprise a list of nouns from the lyrics of a particular rock band and then construct a poem using those nouns. This time it was The Ramones. If you look at their canon, you’ll find the nouns in this poem (from “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment” to “Hangin' out on 2nd Avenue/Eatin' chicken Vindaloo.”) Also, I was taking a prosody class and asked to write in iambic pentameter, so most of the poem is metered that way.
The title of the book is the punchline to a joke: “What’s a Freudian Slip?” I felt that it captured the tone of the book, which is playful, yet mild to moderately neurotic.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Family Consequnces of Eating Disorders

Here are the results from the first 100 respondents.  Note that numbers may exceed 100%, as it was possible to choose multiple responses. 

1. Gender:

Female: 98.0%

Male: 2.0%

2. I have been diagnosed with, or meet criteria for:

Anorexia Nervosa: 44.6%

Bulimia Nervosa:  35.6%

Binge Eating Disorder:  19.8%

Another Type of Eating Disorder:  32.7%

3. My parent or parents have experienced the following emotions as a result of my eating disorder:

Sadness:  54.5%

Anxiety:  56.4%

Anger:  38.6%

Guilt: 43.6%

Not sure: 19.8%

They didn't/don't know about it:  26.7%

4. My eating disorder has had the effect of:

Negatively impacting my parents' relationship:  17.8%

Positively impacting my parents' relationship:  7.9%

Causing them to separate:  1.0%

Not sure:  35.6%

Hasn't had an effect:  43.6%

5. My e.d. has had the effect of:

Positively impacting my relationship with a partner:  15.8%

Negatively impacting my relationship with a partner:  47.5%

Not sure:  14.9%

Not applicable:  29.7%

6. My e.d. has had the effect of:

Positively impacting my relationship with my child(ren): 1.0%

Negatively impacting my relationship with my child(ren):  6.9%

Not sure: 5.0%

Leading my child(ren) to have an e.d., too. 0.0%

Not applicable:  87.1%

7. For those who have a younger sibling(s) only: After I developed my e.d., my younger sibling:

Developed an e.d., too:  12.9%

Did not develop an e.d:  29.7%

Not sure:  14.9%

It's too early to tell:  6.9%

Not applicable:  35.6%

8. For those who have older siblings only: After I developed my e.d., my older sibling:

Developed an e.d., too. 0.0%

Did not develop an e.d.:  40.6%

Not sure:  20.8%

It's too early to tell:  3.0%

Not applicable: 35.6%

9. As a result of my e.d., family member(s) have:

Sought therapy and found it helpful for them to cope:  10.9%

Sought therapy and found it unhelpful:  5.0%

Have not sought therapy:  67.3%

Not sure:  18.8%

10. As a result of my e.d., family members:

Have sought out other resources (e.g., support groups) and found them helpful:  12.9%

Have sought out other resources and haven't found them helpful:  4.0%

Have not sought out other resources:  64.4%

Not sure:  20.8%

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Golden (Rounder?) Globes

Have you all seen this

That's Fit weighs in. . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Media Query

A producer from 20/20 contacted me about trends in eating disorders--they want to do a story about e.d.'s being "contagious" among friends, relatives.  Did you develop your e.d. after a friend or relative did?  Or, did someone follow you?  Here's the link, if you'd like to share your story on camera (please let them know how you found the link):

I'll have preliminary survey results soon!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Survey More

Don't you just love a short survey?  I've added more questions to flesh out the e.d./family issues survey I plan to present at an NYC conference in March. Please take the survey online (it's really quick) and forward to your contacts, if applicable. The survey link is:  E.D./Family Survey.

To give you a little bit of background, I commonly talk about how family members may (in part) influence the development of an eating disorder. We know that. But, not much research has examined what happens to a family as the result of an eating disorder. When I did a literature review using key words such as "family members" "coping," and "eating disorders" no articles came up! Clearly, more work needs to be done in this arena, but for now, there's my brief survey.  Did I mention how quick it is? Just 10 questions!

Ideally, I'd like over 100 responses to make the data meaningful. I'm going to hold off on posting until I meet that goal, so that this post stays on top. Yes, I do believe I'm holding my blog hostage.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Family Issue Polls

Hi--Happy New Year! Hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are ready to work for me! I'm giving a talk in a couple of months on family issues related to e.d.'s. at a day-long conference in NYC. Two of the questions I want to address are: What are the familial consequences of having an eating disorder? Did your parents argue more, split up? Did they experience their own mental health consequences (e.g., anxiety, depression)? Did they report feelings of guilt, sadness, anger? Did your e.d. in some way help the family? The other question has to do with e.d. comorbidity among siblings--if you had an e.d., did your sibling develop one, too? Did your e.d. follow a sibling struggling with one? Do you feel e.d.'s are "contagious" among siblings?

I've included two new polls on the side bar. Please vote and encourage your friends to, as well. I also would love to hear your comments about these topics and with your permission (of course, with identifying information removed), may share a couple of case studies in my talk. Thanks, in advance, for your help!