GenPsych Bridgewater To Host an Eating Disorder Wellness Workshop Breakfast 08/27

On Aug. 27, GenPsych Bridgewater will be hosting an Eating Disorder Wellness Workshop Breakfast as a part of its Healthy Eating and Living Program (HEAL).

The workshop, which will begin at 8:30 a.m., will feature yoga and breakfast for those interested in learning more about body image, eating disorders, and GenPsych’s treatment options.

In a recent episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls, actress Kate Winslet discussed her personal experience with body image through adolescence.

“When I grew up, I never heard positive reinforcement about body image from any female in my life. I only heard negatives. That’s very damaging, because then you’re programmed as a young woman to immediately scrutinize yourself and how you look.”

Winslet’s experience is one that many women can relate to. Yet, the causes of negative body image often stem from the very spotlight where Winslet can be found. Sarah Jackson for The Conversation, a nonprofit media website, writes: “Research shows women view their bodies more negatively after viewing media images depicting the so-called ‘thin ideal’…Exposure to images of extremely slender models has been shown to produce depression, stress, guilt, shame, insecurity and low self-esteem.”

While eating disorders manifest physically, they are inherently psychological. Anorexia nervosa and bulimia often stem from anxiety and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).

The National Institute of Mental Health writes: “Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses. They frequently coexist with other illnesses such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders.”

And, as many lawmakers have come to understand, the media’s depiction of beauty as being very small only exacerbates one’s anxieties.

In April 2015, a French bill, which sought to regulate “too-thin” models, was rejected. Despite its failure, the proposal displays widespread understanding that people are profoundly influenced by what they see.

Ian Sparks for Daily Mail, in his analysis of the bill and similar proposals internationally, writes: “Medical experts around the world have warned against the dangers of ultra-skinny catwalk models, and images airbrushed to make girls look thinner, which they say encourage anorexia in girls as young as six.”

The ‘Thin Ideal’ refers to the glamorization of a slim female body, and subsequent desire by women to achieve it. Although awareness of this media issue has risen, progress has been slow.

One spread in PLUS Model magazine addressed this.

According to the magazine, today’s models weigh 23 percent less than the average woman, a steep increase from the 8 percent difference that existed a decade ago.

Additionally, 50 percent of women are a size 14 or larger, while today’s plus sized models are typically sized 6 to 14.

The result, according to a Psychology Today article, is that between 50 and 70 percent of young girls are unhappy with their bodies.

However, the focus of Alexis Conason’s article is not on the problem, but rather psychological solutions.

Conason is a clinical psychologist in New York who specializes in overeating and body image issues. She references a 2014 study that used cognitive dissonance (CD) to treat body dissatisfaction.

The theory, Conason explains, plays on human desire to be consistent. In the case of body image, women desire to be consistent with the media’s portrayal of beauty, and experience stress and discontent when they fail to meet such standards.

“CD interventions for body image involve engaging participants in counter-attitudinal activities that require them to speak out against the thin ideal of beauty,” she writes. “This creates dissonance because the individual is acting in a manner inconsistent with his or her belief. The hope is that participants will change their beliefs about the thin ideal to correspond to their actions.”

The study, which consisted of over 100 girls aged 12 to 13, did show “lower levels of body dissatisfaction and internalization” in those who participated in active rejection of the ‘thin ideal.’

For more information on eating disorders and GenPsych’s HEAL Program, click here.