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Why Do We Need an Eating Disorder Recovery Movement?

Article contributed by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC, President @ Eating Disorder Hope and Crystal Karges, BS, DTR, CLEC, Special Projects Coordinator @ Eating Disorder Hope

With eating disorders on the rise, many are turning to preventative measure to bring about change.  Understanding the root issues that may be related to the development of eating disorders is critical to reducing the onset of these diseases.  Developing preventative measures that seek to curtail the inspiration of eating disorders and instead encourage a healthy relationship with one’s body and weight, is also essential.  That is why the Eating Disorder Hope Pro-Recovery Movement was designed!

We live in a society where the media is saturated with images, promotions, and advertisements that are designed to inspire discontent with our appearance.  The economic forces behind these advertising campaigns can be difficult to reckon with, especially as media has become a very powerful and manipulative tool in creating an unrealistic image of reality that helps line the pockets of some in the beauty and health industry.  For example, a study of 4,294 network television commercials revealed that 1 out of every 3.8 commercials send some sort of “attractiveness message,” telling viewers what is or is not attractive.  These researchers have estimated that the average adolescent sees over 5,260 “attractiveness messages” per year [1].  The average US resident is exposed to approximately 5,000 advertising messages a day, with the majority of these communicating ideas of a superficial sense of self.  While media images may not directly cause an eating disorder, they play a part in creating the perspective where individuals learn to find value and worth in the size and shape of their body.  Media messages contribute to how our culture defines what is “acceptable and good”, which can lead to the development of self-esteem and body image that is exceptionally distorted.

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  • Another powerful and equally disturbing trend in the realm of damaging social media is the efforts of pro-ana/pro-mia/thinspo web content.  These pages intentionally glorify or encourage eating disorder behavior.  In a trend report in 2008, Optenet found that the pro-anorexia and bulimia sites had increased by 470% between 2006 and 2007 [2].  For those who have an eating disorder or who are vulnerable to developing one, these sites could present potentially devastating consequences.  Many readers who visit pro-ana/mia sites may simply be looking to connect with others who can relate to what they are going through, especially if struggling with negative body image or an eating disorder.  Unfortunately, hope is not found within these darkened communities. In light of this need for more support and in order to inspire responsible and positive social media, Eating Disorder Hope has created the Pro-Recovery Movement.

    At a time where great uncertainty surrounds us and traps of despair and hopelessness are but a click away, we need greater support and encouragement.  Believing that the media can be a powerful tool used to uplift others and make a positive contribution in one’s life are values that are going to create change in a stagnant system.  There is hope for change, hope in others who are unified in a joined purpose to stand resiliently in the fight against eating disorders.

    What exactly does it mean to be Pro-Recovery?  Whether you are struggling with an eating disorder, contemplating recovery, or supporting a loved one, you can stand for recovery.  This can be done by seeking to build up and encourage eating disorder sufferers at all levels with kind words, compassion, acceptance, and understanding.  Make a simple commitment to stand for positive eating disorder recovery online by respecting the Guidelines for the Pro-Recovery Movement in your online interactions.

    Bringing about this Pro-Recovery Movement begins with YOU!  No effort is too small to make a difference in the lives of others who are suffering, to bring light to dark surroundings.  Consider being a part of a revolutionary movement that will help change the way you approach others, media, and the eating disorder community.

    Eating Disorder Hope is PRO-RECOVERY and we encourage eating disorder sufferers at all levels of recovery or contemplation of recovery to follow us on Facebook and allow us to gently inspire and encourage you!


    1. Myers et al. (1992).  Journal of Communications.  42, 108-133.

    Published Date: September 25, 2012
    Last reviewed: By Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on September 25, 2012
    Page last updated: November 7, 2012
    Published on, Eating Disorder Help & Information

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