Body image concerns and eating disorders are extremely common in Australia, but there is currently a large lack of public knowledge surrounding these issues. Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week aims to change that, striving to raise awareness of these serious concerns, help reduce the stigma surrounding eating disorders, and to encourage all Australians – male and female, of all ages – to take steps towards developing a more positive body image.
The theme of this year’s Body Image and Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Love Your Body. The Butterfly Foundation is asking Australians to take a pledge to commit to nurturing a more positive relationship with their bodies.
“Learning how to love your body is a journey of understanding all that your body and mind need to be at their best, and how to feel ‘good in your skin’. It is not about trying to conform to an idealised body image,” the Butterfly Foundation says.
“Loving your body isn’t a flippant and light-hearted commitment. Every day you rely on your body to function physically and mentally. Every hour of the day your body needs to be at its healthiest, so that you can accomplish the mundane and the extraordinary.”
Body image in Australia
Body image is the perception you have of your physical self – and more importantly, the feelings and thoughts that you experience as a result of that perception. Negative body image can cause very real distress, and is an established pre-cursor to eating disorders.
Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses that affect almost one in 20 Australians. Approximately 15% of Australian women experience an eating disorder during their lifetime. However, because these are issues that are often kept closely-guarded secrets by sufferers, it can often be difficult for others to understand. Because of this, there are many misconceptions about eating disorders.
To help support people who may be suffering, there are three key things The Butterfly Foundation emphasises it is important to know:
- Eating disorders are not a lifestyle choice;
- They are not just about food;
- You cannot tell just by looking at someone if they are suffering.
The Butterfly Foundation endeavours to help people foster positive body image, strong self-esteem, resilience, media literacy and a healthy attitude towards food and exercise.
If you need help or support for an eating disorder or body image issue, please call Butterfly 1800 334 673 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.