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Youth and beauty are not accomplishments

There is something remarkable about talking to thirteen year-olds about eating disorders. They’re old enough to understand the complexities of a very uncomfortable subject, yet young enough that they aren’t yet fully engulfed by society’s obsession with weight loss and diet culture.

Shame is a pervasive side effect of weight loss and diet culture. Shame often manifests as defensiveness or silence. There isn’t a lot of defensiveness or silence when I talk to middle schoolers about eating disorders. They often blow me away with their insightful and thought-provoking questions.

I had the privilege of presenting an eating disorder awareness program at a middle school last week. As I walked through the halls of the middle school after my presentation, a few posters caught my eye. They proclaimed, “You’re beautiful!” “You’re amazing just as you are because you are beautiful, smart, talented and funny!” “Don’t let anyone tell you aren’t beautiful! Because you ARE!”

The primary focus of the positivity campaign was reassuring students they were beautiful. Most signs... Read More...