Awareness VS. Understanding

Well hot dang! I was so delighted this morning when I woke up to find that a bunch of you ordered a FabFitFun box! I mentioned in last night’s recipe post that my sister-in-law and I were customizing my box, and I was getting so stinkin’ excited. It’s a quarterly box of over $250 worth of beauty and wellness products for only $39.99. And you can get $10 off if you use my code TENOFF at check out too 🙂

Anywho. I’m in Ohio. I booked a commercial for tomorrow, and so I’m getting to work and play. Lucky me! 🙂

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So I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Weight Watchers has been in the news this past week…and not for good reason.

They’re actually in a bit of hot water.

You see, earlier this month, Weight Watchers announced that they would be offering free memberships to teens, ages 13-17.

And, rightfully so, this maneuver has been met with cries of outrage.

Hashtags like “#WakeUpWeightWatchers” and “#DoneWithDieting” have lit up social media like a firestorm, illuminating the harmful link between dieting and the development of eating disorders — particularly among teens — the most impressionable and susceptible to body image pressures.

And I do have a lot of thoughts about this. I can’t say that a diet caused my eating disorder, but I definitely remember seeing Weight Watchers cookbooks in our house, and  internalizing what was “deemed” a good food or bad food based off of their point system, and then distorting those guidelines into hard and fast rules for my disordered restriction. So it definitely fueled the fire.

And it’s a tricky topic, because yes, our nation is batting obesity at a frightful level. And children too. According to the CDC, one in five American school-aged children is obese. That is concerning. And we need to creatively come up with healthy and positive ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle – like the “Play60” program — encouraging 60 minutes of play per day.

What’s not beneficial is pressuring teens into joining a diet program that obsesses over weigh-ins and exercise and low-calorie “zero point” foods. That is just recipe for disaster.

This whole Weight Watchers scandal is coming right on the brink of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week: February 26 – March 3. And frankly, I’ve always kind of been luke warm about the whole concept. It almost feels like glorifying the disease or as a platform for people to try and shock people with horrifying before-and-after photos as some sort of sick competition. And their “themes” — like “Let’s Talk About It”  with a smiling, beautiful, thin, girl holding a slice of pizza — felt borderline insulting. I don’t know — Here are Two posts that sum up my thoughts.

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But I realized that this Weight Watchers ordeal is a prime example of exactly why we actually, really do need to have a conversation. Because if we’re being really honest – given the concerning obesity statistics, sure — offering free WW memberships to teens sounds like a really positive and beneficial idea…on the surface. So I’m not here to bash WW on, what I feel, was an innocent – yet bone head – decision.

But it does highlight the need for understanding.

That’s the thing: Eating Disorder Awareness — sure…that’s great. Let’s share our stories. Wonderful.

But what’s actually going to make a difference, is understanding.

Sincerely seeking to understand this incredibly misunderstood disease, that is so often the butt end of insensitive jokes or blatant eye rolls — “Just eat a sandwich.” “Ugh, get over yourself.” “She must have daddy issues.” “How vain & superficial.” “Pssh, a rich white girl complex.” “Snap out of it, already.”

The fact is, an eating disorder is a mental illness.

Understanding.

That’s why I wrote my book, Bloom. That’s why I continue to write this blog.

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I applaud the efforts of National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA) Week. And awareness is good. It’s a great start.

But understanding is better.

And so to honor NEDA Week, I wanted to foster understanding on this anorexia recovery blog. SO…

I will be answering any and all questions you send in about eating disorders, recovery, treatment, how to support. Nothing is off limits.

You can either ask your question in the comments section, my DM on Instagram, or you can always email me: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

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And next Monday, I’ll answer them in either a video or a written post – I haven’t decided yet 🙂

So don’t be shy 🙂 I truly hope this can be a fruitful discussion that can help to create some positive understanding and change!

OK, that’s all for now! Wish me luck on the commercial tomorrow!

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BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

105 thoughts on “Awareness VS. Understanding

    1. Hi! As of this very minute, only US and Canada can get the boxes. I’ll keep you posted when that expands. Hopefully you live in Canada?? 🙂 Hugs and love xox

  1. Caralyn, I love how you think and the balanced manner in which you articulate your perspective. I am blessed by your blog and light up when I get post notifications 😁. Oh, and I pray all goes well with your commercial (I know it will). Carry on, Souljah. 😘

    1. thank you friend. Gosh, that makes me smile. Thanks! I hope so! It’s supposed to rain and its an outdoor shoot! yikes! hugs to you xox

    1. thank you friend. captain the ship – haha you’re funny. i’d be honored simply to be one of the “mates” in charge of changing the chamber pots lol Hugs and love xox

    1. thank you Gorman. I definitely think so! thank you for being willing to join in the convo! Hugs and love xox

  2. Definitely this whole thing w weight watchers is cause for concern, glad you’re opening up the dialogue on this matter! Best of luck on your commercial❤️

  3. Is there ever any good news in the news nowadays? The Oxfam thing, the weight watchers thing and a world without Billy Graham. Anyway, my friend wrote a song about her battles mirror mirror by Rosey Cale (shameless plug 😜) you should check it out and yes do a YouTube video, I very much miss your videos ❤️

    1. Hey Benny, I know it really has been a rough February. Oh wow I will definitely check our her videos. Hugs and love xox.

      1. Yes, I work with Oxfam on a twice weekly basis and please please do she is amazing both voice wise and human wise 😍 and I have done a blog post about her so you’ll have to look out for that 😍❤️

  4. Oh Miss Caralyn your words speak life. And are precisely why I have a distaste for the programs wherein the focus is the physical form rather than the health of the person. In focusing solely on our measurements we lose sight of, and fail to integrate our whole person. We are the sum of our parts, not our physical body only.

    There is awareness/tolerance, “yes I know people suffer from ED” to understanding/compassion “my friend has an ED, let me learn what I can so I can be there for her, raise the bottom, and listen in her need.” Let me also be kind enough in my thoughts that “offering a cheeseburger” is not the right course of action. Ahh yes, there we are. Understanding.

    You are a gift Miss Caralyn.

    1. Thank you so much Teri, what a kind thing to say. That’s so true – we are so much more than a number or a dress size. Thanks for being such an awesome friend and person! You have a beautiful heart. Hugs and love xox

  5. Weight Watchers is a business, so I don’t think they would be offering teens free memberships unless they expect to get something out of it in the end.

  6. I will private message you as what I would like to comment and ask is not for everyone to see. Great post and I hope to hear from you soon about what you think.

    1. Meh, changed my mind. My questions are: At what point does obsessive turn into a eating disorder? Are eating disorders genetic or learned? Do you have to binge or purge to haven eating disorder? Thank you!

      1. Thank you for your questions. I will definitely answer these on Monday! Hugs and love xox

  7. 20% of children with obesity?! That is indeed bad, but…you’re right, giving them diet obsessions about, pushing, won’t work well probably. Friendly and creative approach, with active life motivations (in an understanding group) would be surely better. Move, move and move while they discover places, make new friendships, develop talents along the way.

    1. Thanks Robert. Yeah I was shocked by the statistic too! Absolutely – and having fun along the way too! Hugs and love xox

  8. Caralyn,

    You are brave to open yourself up to all of these questions, but I think it is a wise move! People do not realize that eating disorders are mental illnesses that are overcome by treating the cause AND the symptoms.

    – Kat

  9. Is there any national weight loss brand that would fall under usable? Especially, one that’s at least trying to promote better eating for kids? Not better starving, eating.

    My ex girlfriend was on weight watchers and it can be, interesting.

    I can have only three of these things but as much as I want of this stuff. It does change the narcissistic relationship we all have with food. As long as you have money, you can eat whatever you want and don’t worry your waist will catch up. The WW program helped her lose weight and she’s been a healthy weight for almost a decade from being obese in high school and college. The weigh in at meetings, sure. It’s there. It’s not for shaming it’s like group therapy for food. People cry and laugh and laugh-cry. You talk about your hangups with food as a group and find a solution together. So. There’s a healthy relationship with food which leads to a healthy relationship with your body. My grandma used it. My mom used it.

    I can see what you mean by giving this program to essentially high schoolers but then do we have enough programs in high school to benefit larger kids to be healthier? No. Do we have enough programs to promote empathy to accept larger kids as they are? Also, no. Are kids just more accepting of differences in their peers as well as friends? Nope.

    I think the specific case you mentioned (yours), the fear of the scale, fear of eating the wrong thing, just fear. Is not the general case of helping with obesity. I’ve always been a bigger guy. It’s life. Without cheap programs that are proven to work as I can’t find any prior participants that were pushed into ED. I know they benefit communities because they did mine.

    When your kid comes home crying because she’s fat shamed at nine and ten. You know. You’d try anything. She just wanted to be excepted and I know from being bigger when I was small that it’s not normal. Kids, are cruel. She’s worked at it for two years and now she’s happier.

    You can’t set standards for others when there’s viable alternative. But, please share what you know.

    1. These are great points Kenzie. Yeah WW definitely does a lot of good. It’s a really tough issue – especially given the impressionable age group. Habits die hard. Yeah that’s very true – I think it’s a Case by case basis. Hugs and love xox

      1. You are right about impressionable. We want kids to get the best of becoming adults but it really does become a contest between parents even in the lower social classes. Which. Is why when my kids had birthdays we just invited everybody. I’d rent a trampoline park for the day or something similar. There’d be so many kids. My daughter asked me why? I said, because some of those kids don’t have dads but they should feel special too. Did that for almost a decade. I’d like to think my kids’ small group of friends had three birthdays a year for a long time.

        It is hard to say one thing would fix everything. WW is better than parents doing ad hoc dieting and fitness which could be harmful. So. There’s that. It is a hard thing even as an adult to say to yourself that weight is a problem. When my daughter came to me and said all these kids pick on her for being bigger. I didn’t know what to do. Doing nothing though, means these bullies win. It was unfortunate because a lot of these kids would come to our parties. So. There is no straight answer. I would have rather someone sit me down and explain what good foods do when I was little. Than experience being the chubby ugly kid from sixth through twelfth.

      2. You’re right there’s no straight answer. So tough. I’m sorry your daughter is going through that.

      3. Men fight and women are mean. If they were boys I’d teach them to hit harder.

        God made us different but we celebrate the few that are flawless. Never see, a male actor dating or marrying anyone that’s not flawless. It becomes the standard, even for children.

  10. Well, I’m finally home after a long day yesterday of airports and airplanes! I couldn’t help thinking of you every time I walked outside, because – oh my goodness! THE MOUNTAINS!! Absolutely wondrous and a real skier’s mecca, as it turns out. And all I thought they had were Mormons! Have you ever been? I’d imagine maybe so being a skier!

    I pray your shoot is going/has gone well today. Reactions/thoughts on your article over at Patreon.

    1. So glad you’re home safe and sound and that you had an amazing trip. We just missed each other—I’ll be there tomorrow!! Thanks Jeff, looking forward to reading them! Hugs and love xox

  11. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! What a poignant post. There is a difference between awareness and understanding, and I feel like you captured it perfectly. As someone else said, I light up when I see the new post emails from you in my inbox!!

  12. During my teens and younger years, I was always called “chubby” or “pot-belly” by my dad and his relatives, because in their minds, shaming someone would somehow inspire them to take care of themselves. All it did for me was “inspire” me to avoid them at family gatherings. I always thought of myself as overweight, and yet when I look back at photos from junior high and high school, I actually wasn’t. I was average. I just had a lot of friends who were genuinely skinny, so I felt overweight by comparison.

    Now as an adult, I actually am slightly overweight and have been, off and on, throughout my adult life. I’m always striving to lose weight, but I can’t make myself do it in an unhealthy way because frankly, I’m not disciplined enough, lol. Thank goodness. I just try to make better food choices and exercise regularly. But even though I’m not at an “ideal” weight, I’m healthy otherwise. I have no dietary restrictions, no weight-related health problems, nothing like that. So I try to keep it in perspective. As a 53-year-old, I want to be healthy. Looking good in smaller clothes would be a bonus, but it’s not the measure of my happiness.

    I wish there was some way to impress that upon teens and younger people: there are more people who do NOT look picture-perfect than those who do. And of those who do, much of it is lighting, poses, and camera angles. People notice a lot less about us than we notice about ourselves, because we hyperfocus on details, and they just see us, the whole person.

    1. Hi friend, thank you for sharing your story. It sounds like you have a really awesome perspective on what it means to truly live. You are so inspiring. Big hugs to you xox

  13. I understand that food should be for health and not for disease.

    The balanced diet and the intake of healthy liquids should promote the balance of the organism.
    We already know that industrialized foods and beverages generate chemical overdose , and thus, imbalance and disease.

    Our body is constituted by what we eat and drink physically and spiritually; that is, the energies that we are exposed also influence our habits, whatever, for evil or for good.

  14. You are so brave for doing this Caralyn!
    I have a question . . . with an eating disorders, do you see yourself in the mirror different than what others see you? For example, one would see themselves very overweight, although they might be underweight in reality?

    1. Aw thank you friend. And thank you for your question! I’ll def answer it on Monday! Have a great weekend! Hugs and love xox

  15. I have mixed emotions about this too. Oh, the stories I could tell about my messed up childhood. I have had to deal with body shaming my whole life. I’m tall and people say stupid things to people with very little provocation. I thought ‘big’ meant ‘fat’. I spent a lot of time in WW meetings at 5’11 and 3/4 inches tall when I weighed 180. I WISH I weighed 180 now.
    My mother was, and still is, very knowledgeable about food. I grew up dealing with a mom who was ‘thin’ (a body that could have graced the cover of Sports Illustrated) who had a daughter (me) who was not. Fill in the blanks. I married a man who, when single, lived off of delivery pizza and Mountain Dew. WTH?? Trying to educate him on the aspects of clean eating has been a nightmare… and we have been dealing with type 2 diabetes in him our whole marriage (13 years). People are woefully ignorant about food, calories, exercise, etc. Would WW help educate kids on that? I don’t know. If it did then I would say YES! to kids going for free. One thing I have noticed is that nutritional information can be incredibly biased toward promoting the food of whichever company funded the research. Would WW be just as biased? I hate that there are no easy answers. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. An interesting story to follow.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experience on this. Yeah you are absolutely right about there – sadly there’s a lot of “politics” that go into food claims and even the food guide pyramid. Most is money driven. Big hugs to you xox

  16. I struggle with overeating when i am stressed and use eating as a crutch. Do you have any recipes for healthy low calorie foods? Thanks!

    1. Hi Allie, thank you for your question! If you check out my recipe tab, you’ll find lots of healthy dishes! 👍🏼 Hugs and love xox

  17. I never struggled first hand with ED but I really wanted to thank you for being so open hearted with everything in life. Every blog post I read of yours I can always related to in some way and have the same opinons! Its like your in my head sometimes lol I did have a friend that HAD ED. She always worried about the way she looked weight wise and face wise. Luckily she met a guy that saw deeper then that. He helped her as much as he could but with girls there is only so much you can say. She ended up getting pregnant and that changed her whole aspect on life! She realized all the vitamins and nutrition that goes into eating but eating healthy of course. Im just so happy that God gave her something to fight for , something to look forward to, something she knew she had to change for. Shes having a baby boy in may, and I believe he was a miracle sent to her. Thanks for reading and letting me share! Prayers always for you and your family 🙏💖

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and your experience on this. I’m so glad that your friend had a good ending to the story! That’s wonderful!! God is good! Thanks for your prayers and kindness. Hugs and love xox

  18. Caralyn, you know I almost always agree with you but I’m coming at this issue from two different perspectives. One, my wife has been a WW leader for over thirty years. She has told some remarkable stories of young people who have gotten their lives back through Weight Watchers.

    Two, my daughter suffers from anorexia. She’s about your age and, like you, she seems to have beaten the disease but who knows what’s going on in her mind? I pray for her (and you) every day.

    I think WW’s heart is in the right place and that no child should ever enter into any weight loss program without close, and I mean very close, parental supervision. The criticism of their generous offer is a little over the top. But, that’s the kind of world we’re living in.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and perspectives on this. Yeah, this is definitely a tough issue. Because WW does do A LOT of good. Definitely two sides to the coin for sure. And I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter is going through that. J will definitely keep her in my prayers. Yeah – I agree. I think their hearts are in the right place. Thanks for this thoughtful response. Hugs and love xox

  19. A very well written post. I want to thank you for raising awareness of eat disorders. I am not aware of the impact how eating disorders affect suffers and I am learning by reading your blogs. I loath how our society plaves unrealistic beauty and weight standards are young girls especially in the media. I agree with you, I think girls are self concious enough with weight watches tell them they need lose weight. I notice they push it on teen boys; only girls. They really should ashamed themselved. I hope in time I can more understanding so I can be sensitive to these issuez. Thank you again for the post

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. Yeah very good points. Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox

  20. Kids learn very much from parents. Parents should be as good example. That’s the best way. Still, everybody doesn’t have their parents support, but I’m still not sure if ww is good for children. I hope they atleast have high weight edge which under they don’t take (kids) participants.

    The main thing in children’s support should be some kind of exercising like some sport where they could be having fun. If you move yourselves you can also eat more and you will not have so big pressure of eating. Also sport is good for mind and it can helps you forget about ongoing eating -comfort eating maybe- which is so common for overweight people. In the end health is in your brains. It’s the one causes the (eating) problems. You will definitely need more than just diet, it doesn’t fix your brain. You need life changing!

    1. You’ve made some really great points here. Thank you. Life change – very true! Hugs and love xox

  21. Eating disorders definitively need more attention and understanding. It is the same with any mental illness. For some reason, when people don’t understand, they make conclusions and blame people with mental illness. They create a vacuum of stigma. It feels so defeating when I try to break stigma and then the next news story is blaming mental illness. And as far as ED, people don’t even want to hear about it. They would rather push it under the rug. How can we break this cycle when there are so few people who are willing to listen and understand. And as far as WW targeting children and teens…how ridiculous! They need guidance on things like healthy snacks and fun exercises that they enjoy. Not false promises from an organization that preys on people’s weaknesses.

    1. Thank you so much Anna. Lots of really great points here. We can’t push it under the rug anymore. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Hugs and love xox

  22. This is a great topic! so many people struggle with mental health problems no matter what form it comes in and I so completely agree with you that understanding is as important if not more important then awareness.

  23. I love this post. Thank you for writing about something that needs attention. For me, my ED was/is about keeping my size at a certain point. Of course there were underlying issues about why this felt important but in the very simplest of terms I wanted to control my body size.

    What troubles me about the WW platform is that it’s not focused on an understanding of how or why we eat a certain way. Instead it’s marketed at a plan to keep your body at a certain size. This sort of marketing doesn’t address things that could be the root causes of overall health: balance, physical movement, vegetables, variety and intentionality.

    I am with you and healing alongside you.

    1. Thank you so much Natalie. What a heartfelt response. Those are some really great points. So glad you stopped by. Sending you big big hugs xox

  24. Hi, your post is very thought provoking. What comes to mind for me about Weight Watchers and about National Eating Disorders Week is that both might sort of deflect from the real causes of eating disorders. The real causes are bigger and deeper, within a person’s soul and psyche and also probably fueled by our society’s obsession with so-called “perfect” bodies, even while the food industries (and our economy) sabotage the same ideal of perfection by making junk food easier to get than healthy foods. What is the answer then? I think you may be advocating for a more trusting attitude toward nourishment and the body. Weight Watchers produces a mentality of constant anxiety about eating, while you wish to encourage freedom from worry and a natural joy in eating well.

    1. THank you so much for your thoughts on this. That’s such a great point. Two sides to the same coin. Hugs and love xox

  25. I really like this post. I’m actually writing a speech to present Friday (during awareness week, coincidentally) about how the media and society affects children around this age and how they view themselves, so this is good to know.
    My question would be what do you think causes eating disorders?

    1. Thank you Josie. Wow what an honor to speak! And such an important topic too. I’m sorry I didn’t get your question until just now and the post is already live!! The answer is partially on the post. I think a number of factors – but the ED is merely a symptom of something else going on internally. And that’s the root you have to get to that is necessary for true healing. Hugs and love xox

  26. So positive I like that! Enjoy reading your stuff! No idea why you read mine. Can you say opposite? lol Anyways…stay positive…it works for those that can! Great blog! 🙂

    1. Yes! Oh my gosh I just opened it like 15 minutes ago!! I’m making a video for Thursday 🙂 🙂 🙂 So I haven’t tried any of the actual items yet because I’ve only had it for 15 minutes lol but I love the clutch and the Free People eyemask!!! definitely get one! it feels like Christmas when the box comes, and hot dang it’s such a great deal!!! big hugs xox

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