Visuals to lose in the New Year

  • The distorted mirror shot
  • The before and after shots (*special mentions for after shots that look like models... in an implied dig at the vanity of eating disorders.)
  • The sad gaze into the middle distance by middle class European-American girls. Better, absolutely, than the others, because it conveys mental anguish, but it often comes with an inset of an empty plate, fridge, or fork.
  • The "headless fatty" photo illustrating "obesity crisis" journalism (*special mention for the "headless child fatty" which implies such a furtive shot that the photographer probably went home and had to bathe afterward.)
  • The photoshop cinched waist shot
  • The silhouette shot of thin people leaping into the air, which is only a little less subtle than a Viagra commercial. 
  • Scales, scales, scales, scales. 
  • Empty plate. Yeah, I've been guilty of this one. My daughter called me on it and I've been in withdrawal ever since.
Some new images to insert into stories about eating disorders and weight:
  • The normal family eating dinner.
  • Parents holding hands looking with concern at kid.
  • People smiling.
  • Parents and patients of different shapes and sizes.
  • People napping.
  • Stack of medical bills.
  • A pile of books/medical journals/and a PubMed screenshot
Other suggestions?


  1. Off - "confidential" type images of a patient (usually young, female and pretty) talking to a therapist (usually only pictured as the back of the head although the roles and pictures can be reversed) with slogans such as "it's good to talk", or "don't keep it quiet". It IS good to talk, and keeping it quiet is one of EDs nasty tricks, but it can so easily seem that secrecy and quietness are causal rather than a consequence of ED and all you need to do is to "talk about it" whatever "it" may be.

    Pictures of people relaxing with their ordinary, relatively inexpensive, pets.

  2. Oooh yes; I like this list very much. I agree 100% with all the visuals to lose.

    I hate, hate, hate it when AN is depicted by a skeletal girl/woman (wearing only underwear) gazing at herself in the mirror and the mirror image is that of a much more well-endowed woman staring back. Apparently, that is supposed to illustrate how a girl/woman with AN sees herself.

    Perhaps some with AN do see themselves that way, but I know many who didn't, and I never did. I looked in the mirror and saw emaciation. Stick-thin limbs and translucent skin. A furry body covered in lanugo hair. I saw my body for what it was. But that realistic mirror image didn't stop me over-exercising and restricting food, because the objective of my behaviours was not to try to 'correct' or alter my physical appearance. The reason why I couldn't stop over-exercising and restricting food was because I was stuck. I couldn't see life outside of these compulsive behaviours.

    I'll add a couple of pictures to the new list, alongside your well-chosen ones. Happy young woman playing with her pet cat or dog. Happy young woman reading or seated at a computer.

  3. I meant to say "on" with the pet pictures and agree with Cathy, happy people at the computer seems a good idea too.

  4. I know of a positive image. A group of kids coming into the house after a roller hockey game ( just a neighborhood game not an organized sports team) to have a bowl of ice cream.

  5. If there has to be images out there at all - I wouldn't mind the occasional shot the depicting someone a bit older. I couldn't possibly be the only one out there who's >35 and struggling.
    It might just provide reassurance to someone else that they are not 'too old' for an ED and might seek help a bit earlier.

    Here's to a happy and healthy new year :)

  6. I am with you on this, Laura. I also hate all of your images to lose, and I am SO sick of the headless fatty pix.

    I like all of your ideas for new images. Another idea is for photos of patients and parents of different ages. My D was 11 when first diagnosed, and she is still struggling at 23, and I am now in my 60's.

    Cathy, when my D had AN, she never saw herself as anything other than emaciated either. She had the fear of getting fat, but knew that she wasn't.

  7. While I definitely agree that those images don't necessarily correspond to AN or eating disorders and need to be lost, I think that the reason that they're so prevalent is that -like most other illnesses - eating disorders don't discriminate. They can happen to anyone, young or old, male or female, wealthy or poor. And so image creators resort to stereotypes or things generally associated with eating disorders because to portray the reality or the average but not closest-thing-to-death-you've-ever-seen eating disorder is to simply show an image of a "normal", "average" person, which that doesn't necessarily evoke the thoughts or emotions intended.

  8. I would like to see more pictures of fun food being eaten by real people. I don't mean cupcakes arranged prettily on a stand with a stick thin model pretending to take a bite but hearty legs of lamb, roast potatoes and stacks of steaming veg slathered in butter being actually eaten.

    I would like a campaign that runs along the line of for every page of diet foods, there should be another page of normal food for normal people!


  9. More images of boys and people of all ages and races.


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