Monday, October 22, 2007

Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Have Eating Disorders

Pro-ana websites aren't just for teen girls admiring photos of Nicole Richie. Now eating disordered mothers are trading tricks, tips and advice, too. One of these online communities called "ana_moms" has 302 members and another 318 watchers with user names like starvinmommy and wannadisappear. "How do you meal-plan when you plan not to eat? How do you stay thin without giving your kids an eating disorder?" asks the moderator in her introduction to the website.

Here's the thing: If you're spending your time online comparing yourself to Kate Hudson when she was pregnant ("the kind of mom we see when we look in the mirror") and post-pregnancy ("the kind of mom we want to look like"), there is just no way you will be able to help your daughters and sons develop healthy attitudes about food. It doesn't matter what positive messages you give your kids about weight if you're constantly contradicting yourself with your own behavior. Stop worrying about how you will hide your eating disorder from your children and start doing the work to get your disordered eating in check.

The fact that many mothers struggle with serious weight and body image problems shouldn't be such a news flash; the existence of ana_moms is just one extreme manifestation of a much larger issue. After all, it is estimated that ten million women suffer from eating disorders, so it would stand to reason that a good number of them are or will become moms. It's ridiculous to assume that pregnancy and motherhood magically trump all the body image concerns (and sometimes serious eating disorders) we had before. Those problems don't just disappear in some blissed out mommy haze. And sometimes they can actually get worse. Yet instead of real support and solutions, women get Hollywood Bump Watch and Mommy Makeovers. What's going on? We deserve better. [MamaVision]

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