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The Renfrew Center of New York City has MOVED!


Intersectionality and Eating Disorders

By: Brianna Theus, RDN, CDN, Registered Dietitian at The Renfrew Center of White Plains, NY

“Love the skin you’re in.” “Love your body.” “Accept yourself as you are.”

Over the past few years, we have been delighted to take notice of the many affirming messages about body positivity—which is great! But what if the skin you’re in is not traditionally appreciated by the world? What if your body is often the brunt of jokes on TV and social media?

You may not realize it, but there is intersectionality in eating disorders. Intersectionality is a framework for understanding how aspects of a person’s social and political identities combine to create different modes of discrimination and privilege. Anyone’s body can be a target, no matter the individual’s size, shape, ability, race, gender identity, age, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. Discrimination causes harm and ignites feelings of being “less than” others. It carries with it the message that only certain people “matter,” and it often shuts down individuals’ ability to speak up for themselves.

What can be done in these situations? How can you love your body when no one else does?

  • We were not born hating our bodies. This is something that was learned over time. There is a point in everyone’s life when they loved and enjoyed their body – you did too. Remind yourself you do not have to hold onto the shame that has been placed onto you by the world, or your own dissatisfaction with your body’s inability to meet the standards of the outside world.
  • Yes, you are more than your body, but you are your body. The color of your skin, your sexual orientation, your body size… it makes you who you are. Taken from Sonya Renee Taylor’s book, “The Body is Not an Apology.” In truth, YOUR body is not an apology. You are who you are. Embrace that mantra and don’t let anyone take that away from you.
  • Remember that just because someone may look different than you, does not mean they are not struggling or have no need to get help. Everybody’s experiences are unique, and all are important. Take time to listen and recognize how intersectionality plays a role. If you hear something negative directed towards someone else’s body, speak up.
  • As hard as it may be, remember your body is worthy of respect and love, no matter what!

Brianna Theus, RDN, CDN, is a Registered Dietitian at The Renfrew Center of White Plains, NY. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Saint Joseph and her dietetic internship through Western Connecticut Health Network. She joined Renfrew in July 2019 to pursue her passion in helping others with their relationship to food and their bodies. Brianna loves working with the BIPOC community and helping them understand the intersection of race and eating disorders.

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