National Eating Disorders Association

Many people look forward to the winter holiday season for time off to relax and be with loved ones. For others, this time of year brings an influx of complicated feelings. For those of us struggling with body image and an unhealthy relationship with food, already aggravated by how central food becomes during the holidays, the pressure to spend time with family can be overwhelming. 

Planning a wedding can be stressful at times—says every person I’ve ever met. The details, the pressure to please everyone, and the expectations we create are things that cause us to stress out at moments. Yet, for me, planning a wedding brought along an entirely different set of worries on top of the common ones. I had to plan a wedding with one goal in mind: to stay strong in my eating disorder recovery. 

Even if you haven't read any of her novels, you've probably heard of Margaret Wolfe Hungerford’s most famous quote, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It’s a very simple way of explaining aesthetic relativism after all.

We see aesthetic relativism in modern society, like when a celebrity or classmate from high school is praised for being a great beauty but you don’t find them attractive at all.

In a broader context, countries experience this idea by developing their own beauty standards instead of following the same definition.

The holiday season is my favorite time of year. I know I’m not alone in that. Who wouldn’t love home, hearth, and family all bundled together in a peppermint-scented haze of love and gratitude?

But ever since I was diagnosed with anorexia, the beloved season has also become a huge challenge.

Just a few years ago, right before Hannuka (I’m Jewish), I was in treatment. Preparing us for the upcoming holiday, the hospital brought us all pies as a snack.

Melinda developed an eating disorder while she served in the military from 2003-2008. When she met her husband Jim several years later, she was still battling binge eating disorder and bulimia. They’ve coped as a couple as Melinda began her recovery for her eating disorder.

Something that really bothers me is when people say, “I'm going to binge-watch this show all weekend.” Although the word binge means to indulge in an activity to excess, there is a significant difference between binge eating and watching an entire season of a new Netflix show in one sitting. As someone who has a history of binge eating disorder, those comments feel insensitive.

I am enough. These three words appear in memes and on social media. We fling them around in the recovery community and silk screen them onto shirts. While in treatment, therapists repeated them and encouraged me to apply them to myself. With a flip of a pronoun, they altered the phrase and turned it into a mirror directed squarely at me. “You are enough,” they said. “You are enough.”

This morning, I checked my phone to find a flurry of excited Facebook posts about TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year, the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. The magazine featured a group of women and men crucial to the movement, whom it dubbed “The Silence Breakers.” 

This past Saturday, the women of SNL united for “Welcome to Hell,” a catchy, candy-colored music video that serves to remind everyone that sexual harassment and abusive behavior toward women has been going on for a very, very, very, long time.

The image of recovery, particularly online, has such a pristine filter on it. Take a look at the recovery tag on Instagram or Tumblr and you will see some very positive things, but it can also be intimidating and even discouraging. Some may see the colorful fruit display and green smoothie close ups as what recovery truly is. It is not. Not only is there a sanitized version of recovery, but it is also very whitewashed.