In our competitive, star-obsessed and image conscious society, where great emphasis is placed on youthful appearance and “perfectionism,” it comes as no surprise that eating disorders and body image issues are on the rise. Specifically, Weight Stigma, characterized by bullying, discrimination and judgment, leads to poor physical and psychological health for the victim, including negative and self-destructive patterns.
Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW), sponsored by the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), is an annual online awareness event designed to bring much needed attention to this issue of social injustice. The theme this year is “Bias and Bullying: Weight Stigma in Diverse Communities.” Some topics related to communities affected by this discrimination including, Communities of Color, Children and Weight Based Bullying, Transgender Challenges, Chronic Disease and Disability, and Weight Stigma in the Provider Community, will be discussed through social media outlets.
Dance/movement therapy (DMT) is an especially powerful therapeutic medium to begin addressing and bringing awareness to how we relate to, understand, and befriend our bodies as individuals, as a group, and as a society. DMT is based on the principle that the mind and body are connected and that movement reflects patterns of thinking and feeling. This supportive modality encourages individuals to explore their relationship with their physical beings, and express their thoughts and feeling states creatively through movement, so that healthy patterns and increased sense of self can emerge.
Now more than ever, we must come together to combat Weight Stigma and unhealthy body image. Let us each support one another and move towards self-acceptance, regardless of outside judgment and prejudice.
Resources and References:
- Binge Eating Disorder Association
- Dance/Movement Therapy with Eating Disorders handout
- Sandel, S. L., Chaiklin, S., & Lohn, A. (Eds.) (1993). Foundations of dance/movement therapy: The life and work of Marian Chace. Columbia, MD: Marian Chace Memorial Fund of the American Dance Therapy Association.
- Schmais, C. (1985). Healing processes in group dance therapy. American Journal of Dance Therapy, 8(1),17-36.