Community Magazine

Dear Butterfly Foundation

By Survivingana @survivingana

Butterfly, with respect your constant body image campaigns and it’s all about looks ideology heavily promote to the general public, medical people, parents and kids of all ages that eating disorders come from body image, dieting or models. You do not separate the issues enough nor do you promote campaigns that clearly state what an eating disorder is – they are genetic/biology based with a very complex mix that trigger the development. Just because you struggle with your body image or you diet does NOT mean you are seriously opening yourself to an ED. Otherwise there would be millions with an ED. Those who develop an ED do so because of a genetic/biological predisposition. Your campaigns do not indicate this and in their simple, trivial body image design muddy what is the truth. You also confuse disordered eating with eating disorders. The two are VERY different and are not the same. Disordered eating can sometimes lead to an ED but again ONLY if your predisposed that way.

If you are the most public spokes group for EDs in Australia then do so without the body image stuff being too closely associated with EDs. We desperately need early intervention, and diagnosis and treatment centres. Yet you spend grant money on silly, superficial campaigns. There is no research at all that says these type of campaigns work in preventing EDs and these have been done world wide. In fact research show they don’t help. Research does however show that early diagnosis, intervention and full on treatment does work. Yet Australia DOES NOT invest in this. Instead we do best practice which in the end ends up worst for the patient. We still cannot even get GPs, psychologists, psychiatrists to even be trained correctly to clearly diagnose an ED or provide correct treatment and therapy. What the medical profession here tells sufferers is appallingly wrong and old school.

Your ‘dis’ campaign makes a joke of my daughters serious (almost deadly) illness and long recovery, as it was never ever about body image nor dieting nor media related. She herself will tell you your campaigns miss the mark. Many others will tell you that. And because people keep pushing the body image barrow, of course sufferers think they can blame their poor body image. They aren’t told of the truth of how an ED develops so of course they blame body image or diets. It is so much more complex and deeper and your campaign does not go that deep. It remains shallow, superficial and unlinked to the reality of an ED. Thankfully my daughter had a decent, highly ED educated medical team who explained what EDs really are and worked far beyond the silly body image idea. Her recovery is a testament to the fact they totally understood EDs, early diagnosed, heavily intervened, used high level therapy and long term treatment.

The campaigning for better body image alludes that this is the key to prevention. This naturally then follows the idea that you can then choose to get an ED or not. By choosing better body image then you can prevent an ED occuring. This is a very wrong concept and not achievable and in the end this type of thinking lays blame at the doorstep of sufferers. They could have ‘chosen’ better, ‘done’ better. You cannot choose to give yourself an ED, you cannot do superficial body image external caring that will prevent an ED developing. By pushing the external body image line, you also make is sound so simplistic and easy to either get the ED and worse, to remove the ED in your life.

You CANNOT prevent an ED. It is wishful thinking and taking the easy/wrong road out to say that good body image will prevent an ED. Complete crap. As parents of sufferers we are so over the body image linkage, the half naked women, and all that goes with this. It does nothing more than send the wrong message, not provide what is needed nor address the gaps in care. We see our children develop EDs, we see the generic and biological trigger set off and we can tell you very very very clearly that if our children had been exposed to your campaigns it would NOT have made any difference. There are and have been for years many such school based programs and self esteem stuff – it made and makes no difference. US research are proving this, they have been at this body image campaign longer than Australia has. It isn’t working for the prevention of EDs.

Research in this country is either suppressed or not valued for the medical side, and obviously not funded. The push is for quick research, popular topics and public opinion. Research is only ever as good as the questions it fields and the frame it has surrounding it. The research touted often aligns to a purpose or campaign and the real research with the truth and guts of eating disorder development is ignored or not done. The strong alignment with genetics, biology, neurology, personality etc are not marketed. In doing so we hide for longer the real truth and we hamper any decent forward progress we can make toward this illness.

Many clinicians in this country do not understand EDs fully nor do they keep up to date with latest findings. They are many of them, still in old school format. Thousands of parents can testify to this hard cold fact when we seek treatment for our children. Our country is very out of date and has a severe limitation on diagnosis and treatment. The parent body is a critical aspect you have ignored and forgotten. We are the frontline of care, we seek, fight and get so frustrated with the lack of knowledge, treatment and care. We are ignored but have far more ability than your experts. In most cases it is us who sees the the real ED, it is us who save our kids by doing refeeding and fighting for correct care because our health system fails us. We can tell doctors far more about this illness, it’s reality and development and yet we are classed as sub-people. Other countries have realised the value of the parent body and utilise them. Australia and its ED areas still ignore our input or only ever include us after all the ‘experts’ have decided what is best. Time to change and start to listen to what is needed and what could be better approaches.

Don't 'DIS' our eating disorder recognition and recovery

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