Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week (BIEDAW) is a national week to raise awareness of body image concerns and eating disorders, celebrated annually 6-12 September.
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any time, and one of the largest, modifiable risk factors in the development of an eating disorder is dieting. Additionally, months of lockdowns, isolation and changes in routine have been hard for people living with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. This has only been compounded by media messaging and living in a diet culture that says we should feel guilty about how our bodies have changed during this time.
As such, in 2021 we will be joining some members of the Eating Disorder Alliance Australia colleagues to raise awareness of the impact of diet culture on our lives and body image, so we can continue to celebrate all bodies.
Diet culture is a set of beliefs that promote weight loss and equate it with a person’s health, success and self-worth. It perpetuates the understanding that thinness is the ‘correct’ body size to maintain and a person is ‘morally bad’ if they gain weight or live in a larger body. Diet culture conditions a mindset that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to eat. It encourages unhealthy practices around food, exercise and eating to achieve a desirable physical appearance.
Whilst diet culture is entrenched within our everyday lives, we must begin to dismantle its harmful beliefs, messages and practices. Health, success and self-worth are not found through altering physical appearance, and the pursuit of a certain body shape or size can have negative effects on a person mentally, emotionally, socially and physically.
We must prevent society from conflating ‘health’ with dominant beauty standards. Butterfly also acknowledges that there is no ‘correct’ body size to maintain and inhabiting a smaller body does not enhance a person’s morality or status. Diet culture is dangerous for all bodies regardless of their weight.
It’s also important to be aware that influencers and celebrities can often amplify diet culture by promoting inaccurate health and dieting advice, or encouraging their audiences to engage in diets or practices that may be not be applicable to every body.
People living in larger bodies may:
For many people, the pandemic has impacted regular eating and exercise routines. Unfortunately, this has led to significant discourse from the diet industry about weight gain during periods of lockdown, with terms such as the ‘COVID Kilos’ and ‘Quarantine 5’ being coined. This type of messaging is extremely problematic as it is an already stressful period and people do not need to be told that they need to look a certain way as society starts to open up again.
Research has even indicated that increased exposure to weight stigmatising social media messaging has been linked to greater eating disorder symptomology at this time.
Instead, we should use this time to be kind to our bodies, grateful that they’re helping us to get through a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. And while it’s common during this time to spend more time on social media, make sure it’s a safe space that benefits your mental health. Unfollow people and accounts who are no longer serving you, follow body positive accounts and hashtags, and remember to take a break and turn off the screens everyone once in awhile.
Finding ways to like, accept, love or even feel positive about your body can be challenging in the world we live in today, but we can all try to be a little kinder.
Being Body Kind is how we nourish, nurture and move our bodies. It’s about the language we use out loud, online and in our heads – to ourselves and others.
This September, join Butterfly’s free annual awareness initiative, Body Kind, to encourage everyone in Australia to be kind to their own body and to others; face to face and online. You will receive practical, evidence-informed tips, activities and webinars.
Keep your eyes on our social media channels, where across the week will be showcasing Lived Experience and expert insights, quotes and information on how you can reduce the impact of diet culture on your body image and life.
Donate to Butterfly, so we can continue supporting those living with eating disorders and body image concerns.
Free educational webinar for health professionals.
Join Eating Disorders Victoria and Australia’s leading HAES® clinicians and advocates for a special webinar in support of BIEDAW 2021.
Wednesday, 8th Sept | 7pm-8pm | Zoom
Join EDV’s Wellbeing Coordinator and yoga practitioner Amy Woods for a gentle online yoga class. This free class will be themed around this year’s focus of BIEDAW – Respecting All Bodies
Thursday Sept 9th 2021| 10am – 11am | Online via Zoom
 Eating Disorders Victoria. (n.d.). Key research and statistics. Retrieved from Eating Disorders Victoria website: https://www.eatingdisorders.org.au/eating-disorders-a-z/eating-disorder-statistics-and-key-research/
 Butterfly Foundation. (2021). Risks and warning signs. Retrieved from the Butterfly Foundation website: https://butterfly.org.au/eating-disorders/risks-and-warning-signs/
 NEDC. (2017). People Living in Larger Bodies & Eating Disorders. Retrieved from the NEDC website: https://nedc.com.au/eating-disorders/eating-disorders-explained/people-living-in-larger-bodies-and-eating-disorders/
If you or your loved one is experiencing a body image concern or eating disorder, contact the Butterfly National Helpline
1800 33 4673 | via webchat |email firstname.lastname@example.org