Eating disorders: Body photos and body checking

**Note, may be triggering picture*

Most people like taking pictures of themselves or taking selfies. It is part of social media and many like sharing pictures of their outfits, or maybe when they are working or just sharing a picture of themselves because they want to or feel good in their body. There is nothing wrong with that.

However there is also a fine line between sharing a photo of yourself because you want to/feel good and taking pictures of yourself and body checking.

Sometimes you don’t even realise what you were doing until you look back on your old habits. For those of you who have followed me for a long time i.e back in 2013-2014 (?) i used to take alot of gym pictures… almost everytime i went to the gym (which was 5-6 times a week) i would take a few (or more like 50) gym pictures. Back then i used to post them to social media as well as i had more of a fitness instagram then. All the other accounts i followed did it as well so i didn’t think much of it… but now when i look back and think back on it i realise it was also a sort of body checking.

When i was sick with my eating disorder i could stand infront of the mirror for hours critisizing every part of my body. I would cry when i saw myself in the mirror and at times i felt like i couldn’t even trust what i saw in the mirror so i would take pictures of myself to see “what was the truth”. But even in the pictures i would see myself as too fat and would end up crying over how i looked…. not even seeing just how malnourished and sick i was – all i saw was a body i hated. As i recovered i learnt to accept my body image and how i looked in the mirror and photos… it took alot of time and i can still struggle with how i look in photos. However i don’t let it hinder me and i realise that you can’t look good in all photos… there will be times that photos are taken when you aren’t aware or from weird angles and you think you look strange because you don’t usually see yourself from someon elses perspective or angles. And it can be tough to deal with this, but you can learn to accept it.

Anyway…. when i had more of a fitness social media i also took alot of photos of my body, which when i think back really wasn’t so good. It was positive in a way that i learnt to love and accept my body for how it looked and how it looked in photos, but it also wasn’t such a good thing, i.e to still have focus on your body. There is nothing wrong with posting flexing or gym pictures if you are doing it for the right reasons… but i don’t think i was always doing it for the right reasons. Sometimes i guess i wanted approval or comments on my body, even if that wasn’t always the case… many times i posted the pictures just because i wanted to, and not for approval.

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It is hard to explain in words and this topic would be much better suited in video format so i could talk about my thoughts and what i really mean, but i will try my best to formulate myself in writing anyway!

I guess what i want to say is that there is a fine line between being obsessed and posting pictures of yourself and your body for approval and for attention and doing it just because you feel good and really don’t care about approval.

But also when you begin taking pictures of yourself and your body almost everday it can become an obsession… you begin to focus too much on your body and how you look.

When you look in the mirror you shouldn’t begin critisizing yourself. You shouldn’t spend 30 minutes staring at yourself and hating yourself and you shouldn’t body check everytime you see yourself in something reflective.

You are more than your body and you don’t need to do body checks everyday and take photos of your body everyday. You don’t need to do body checks everytime you go to the bathroom. Your body is ok as it is and you don’t need to “check” it all the time.

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When you are sick with an eating disorder or get stuck in the fitness world it is easy to get so stuck in body checking and think that is normal… but really it isn’t and at times it is a sign that you don’t have a healthy relationship with your body. I’ve been there before and i didn’t even know what i was doing or realise it was abnormal, it is only now when i look back that i realise it was strange and not so normal.

I don’t follow as many fitness people anymore only a few select people who i get inspired by. However i am not inspired by ab photos or people who just flex half naked flexing photos… for me, that doesn’t inspire me… that just shows me a body. It is great that people are proud of their bodies and the hard work they have put in at the gym, but for me it doesn’t inspire me to workout or motivate me to challenge myself at the gym it just makes me scroll by or at times unfollow if that is all the person posts. This is just me personally…. some people get inspired by it. But with my past of an eating disorder and being obsessed and stuck in a fitness mindset it doesn’t bring me anything positive.

A long post with some rambles and thoughts i have this Thursday evening, and i know many of my old followers no longer follow me on this blog, so for many of my new followers this may be something new or irrelevant. But it is an important topic…. That maybe 1 or 2 of you begin thinking about your habits – maybe you are body checking a little too often or a little too obsessed with your body and body image.

 

Most people take photos of themselves. Most people take selfies. But make sure that it doesn’t cross the line of unhealthy and obsessive – whether you post the pictures or not, it may just be that you are spending a little too much time than necessary staring at yourself in the mirror each day or doing thigns like stomach checks or arm checks etc

Critisizing yourself won’t help you love yourself and the more you focus on your body the less focus and energy you have on other things in your life like actually living and appreciating life!!!

 

The hard thing about this topic is that when you work with social media you do take more pictures of yourself – that is if you aren’t anonymous or private anyway. So for most people who aren’t so active on social media they definitely don’t take as many pictures as somone who is active on social media might do. I.e i do still take photos of myself for social media, but it is just times i feel good and want to post and don’t feel a pressure to look a certain way. Of course i don’t post photos of myself on the days i don’t feel good and only post the pictures i think i feel good so there is still a filter on my photos and i am honest with that. But i guess what was obsessive/not so healthy/everyday photos is alot more relaxed now and posting because i want to post and feel good and not for approval or because i am body checking.

If this makes sense… it is just a long ramble but feel free to share your thoughts about this topic if you have any. Would love to know what others think about this, hahah!

 

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Love this. You look like you’re doing really well x

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  2. Lily says:

    I think this is a really important topic, as I also had a period when I spent a lot of time of my day standing in frint of the mirror, taking pictures, never being satisfied with any of them. Now I just deleted them to not trigger me, but I came to a point where I only take pics if I’m feeling really good in my body, so when for some reason I’m really energetic and happy, and then I mostly like those photos even though they might not be from the best angles:)thank you for being honest about it here, it can help people realise their own relationship with their body

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  3. caroljoanne1969 says:

    Although I never took photos of myself I went through a period of “body checking” whereby every time I went to or passed the bathroom I would lift up my clothes to check my stomach. I also weighed myself every day, sometimes more. At the time I didn’t think there was anything wrong in doing this, its only now looking back at the stages of my ED that I went through that I realise what I was doing was not “normal”. Its strange how you are blind to your own behaviours but that’s how it was. It took a long time for those behaviours to go but as my ED lost its grip on me and a went further into recovery they did. I no longer weigh myself everyday – infact the only time I step on the scales now is when I go to see my doctor and they want to weigh me.
    Your post was so open and honest and reading it reminded me of the body checking I used to do – but not in a “triggering” sense, remembering has made me realise just how far I have come since those days and that is a good thing. Thank you for raising this subject, your post could definitely help people look at their relationship with their body and perhaps question their behaviour before they get too drawn into it.

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  4. Sophie says:

    Hi Izzy,
    I have a question since I know you suffered from a severe exercise addiction when you had your ed. Im still not fully recovered, but I’m weight restored and live a normal life so I guess I’d say Im very close to recovery. However, I also had a very serious problem with excessive movement when I was at my worst stages in the illness. Today I’m quite sedentary since I study full time, and I don’t get anxiety for moving/not moving, but the problem is that I still think about how/when/how much I move and will move almost all the time!! I don’t know why because I doesn’t make me move more or less, it’s just like I’m always analyzing it even though it makes no sense at all and it’s completely unnecessary.. Its like “Now I’m sitting down, now I’m standing, now I’m walking, now I’m dancing etc..” and it is so frustrating and I just want to be normal like I was before my ed when I never had a though about the daily movement. Was this ever a problem for you? If so, how did you stop thinking about your movement?

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  5. myquietroar says:

    I think the point you are making is very valid, and it is wonderful to read how you have reflected on this and made positive changes for yourself. I wonder though if by including old photos which represent what you have moved away from you are still contributing to the wider sphere of excessive focus on body image? I don’t want this to come across as a criticism, I think it’s fantastic that you are creating awareness that there is another way to live, I just wonder if this could be done without the photos? (Maybe the answer is no of course!)

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  6. Hey, hope you are doing well.

    I invite you to read a post of mine where I am gathering warriors facing mental health challenges 1st hand to educate people, to raise awareness and acceptance.

    I need help from you in breaking stigma.

    Here is the link to post.. https://stoneronarollercoaster.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/mental-health-awareness/

    Your participation can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

    Thank you 🙂

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