Author – Laura Muth
Many people have admitted to being the victim of bullying at some point in their life. The effects of bullying include increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy.
Worryingly, research has suggested links between bullying and eating disorders. While the causes of eating disorders are not completely understood, several factors have been found to contribute to the development of this disease.
Potentially the most detrimental effect of bullying is the impact it has on one’s self-esteem, and particularly when it takes the form of body-bullying. Current research suggests that the experience of being verbally bullied can lead to adolescents being at a greater risk of developing emotional problems, which can then lead to body dissatisfaction., and therefore body-bullying or body-shaming can be a contributing factor to the development of an eating disorder. This is because, it is thought that individuals who are bullied may turn to eating disorders in an effort to manage their stress or as a coping mechanism.
To reverse the trend in an increasing link between bullying and eating disorders, there are ways in which parents, educators and coaches can help:
- Recognize the signs of weight bullying – watch for warning signs, for exmaple if a child suddenly starts talking about how “fat” they are, or an increased preoccupation with their appearance and/or weight.
- Be a positive role model – be careful about what you say about yourself in front of children. Possessing positive body image will empower children to feel good about their own bodies in turn.
- Impart self-esteem – possessing a well-rounded sense of self and a solid self-esteem can prevent eating disorders. Give praise often and honestly, but without overdoing it.
- Help them broaden their idea of beauty – Keep the focus from appearance and instead focus on other aspects that make your child beautiful. For example, intelligence, compassion, kindness or intelligence are all beautiful traits.
- Seek professional help when needed – if you notice signs of an eating disorder, seek professional help as soon as you can. Earlier intervention can reduce the time a person spends in recovery and improve their chances of recovery.
Additionally, in today’s society, we are aware that women often view other women as competitors, as opposed to allies and often focus on a women’s faults rather than her achievements or value.
Competing and condemning women in this sense is a form of bullying and here at Recover, we aim to create a community where women can feel positive about other people’s success. It is so positive to see our patients supporting one another, instead of being threatened by each other’s success. This is an invaluable trait we hope our patients will learn and take with them in the future.