Acknowledging Eating Disorders: Ending Excessive Photoshop Jobs Helps, but Isn’t the Answer

Eating disorders are varied and dangerous.

Eating disorders aren’t funny, a fad, a phase, or motivation to lose weight – they are deadly and incredibly hard to treat.

Eating disorder awareness week happens every year from February 22-28; but similar to all “awareness” weeks, months, etc., this illnesses needs to be in the spotlight year-round.

Eating disorders run the gambit. You’re probably more familiar with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, but there is at least a handful (if not more) other types of eating disorders (Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia) affecting men and women, and boys and girls of all ethnicities and ages.

Many different things can trigger disordered eating: emotional, sexual, or physical trauma, and bullying are just a few examples. But other factors can cause disordered thoughts, feelings, and actions.

One of the “fueling” factors that is getting attention lately is the use of Photoshop and filters on models, actors, and actresses.

No one is saying that altered images cause eating disorders – that’s a load of crap. But when people are bombarded with absolutely bananas images of women with insanely small waists, and wrinkle-free faces, and men with impossible abs, it sure doesn’t help.

No one is perfect. Thin women have cellulite, young girls have smile lines, and men who work out on the regular don’t always have defined muscles.

Case in point: About a week or so ago, some unretouched images of Cindy Crawford and Beyoncé were “leaked” to the public. We think it’s terrible that leaking these photos has even caused a stir, but the fact that they surprised fans is of note. Yes, even celebrities aren’t perfect – we all have smile lines, excess skin, and facial puffiness.

Another “Photoshop” bombshell that was reported on earlier this week was David Lopera’s enlarged images of notable women. Changing these women’s bodies isn’t positive – making them larger doesn’t equate to creating an overall positive body image – he’s still merely creating fantasies.

Real women have, and don’t have curves, and real men are strong, and weak. People come in different shapes and sizes – period.

However, we know that even if all bodies and sizes are accepted, eating disorders would not cease to exist. Disordered eating is a bitch to overcome and will always be a real issue that should be taken seriously. Hell, I’ve been in recovery for about six years, and I still – still – see myself in a distorted way when I look in the mirror.

It’s going to take a lot of education and time to get to the point where everyone believes that disordered eating is a real problem, but time and advocacy (like those who do condemn the overuse of Photoshop) can help us all recognize that these disorders are illnesses and not fads.

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Image: Laura Lewis

Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.