If you have a daughter who is in recovery from an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia, it is likely that her weight will fluctuate, and possibly increase, during recovery. This is a natural reaction to the fact that she has been using her body as a coping mechanism rather than honoring its natural hunger cues.
The weight gain process during eating disorder recovery is extremely sensitive. As her weight rises, your daughter may be facing terrifying feelings of unworthiness in her therapy sessions. Outside of therapy, her maladaptive coping mechanism with the voice of ED tells her that her weight is the problem, and will suggest that she restrict, binge and purge to keep it under control.
There is no doubt that this is a very difficult situation in which to parent. Many times, no matter how much you reassure her that she is lovable at any size and that her weight will settle once the eating disorder has receded, she cannot hear you over the voice of ED. In those times, it may be helpful to show, rather than tell her about body size acceptance.
A great cure for the society we live in, which tells our girls that skinny = value, is visiting museums that feature classical art. It is only recently that the beauty ideal came to resemble that of a prepubescent child rather than a natural, healthy woman.
A visit to an art gallery can be a wonderful way to help her see that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and can be interpreted in many different ways. Seeing a variety of beautiful women of many shapes and sizes is still not available in our modern media sources, but it is very available in museums.
Even if you don’t actually visit a museum together, consider purchasing or borrowing a beautiful classical art book, or even browse Pinterest together and identify your favorite images of women. Below are some of our favorites.
Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Ginny is also a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.