The Recovery Myth, Part Four: “What Does Recovery Mean To You?” 7 Warrior Women on Living The New Normal

The Recovery Myth, Part Four: “What Does Recovery Mean To You?” 7 Warrior Women on Living The New Normal

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration The Recovery Myth

I am so proud to bring you THE RECOVERY MYTH: a four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.

I’m talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

In Part Onewe debunked the seven biggest myths and misunderstandings surrounding recovery (read listen here). In Part Two, I talked to actor, host, blogger, and activist Lynn Chen all about navigating recovery in the midst of social media pressures, food intolerances, and a #bodypos world that sends mixed messages (listen here). And in Part Three, I spoke with healer and founder of Breathwork For Recovery Nathaniel V. Dust all about processing trauma, rewiring behavioral patterns, toxic relationships, and alternative forms of therapy you might not ever have known existed (listen here).

Recovery is an opportunity to show up for yourself in a profound, permanent way - @pureleighliving Click To Tweet

For the final installment of The Recovery Myth, I polled a group of healers, experts, activists, and warrior women (all who have experienced an eating disorder) and asked them one simple question:

What does recovery mean to you?

The answers to this question were just as varied as the women who answered it, but every person touched on one common thing: it’s a lot more complex than just a before and after shot.

Here’s what they said:

Recovery isn’t so much about getting back to normal as it is about the process of creating a new normal. No one formula works for everyone, and no one path is linear.

Recovery isn’t always obvious – because the real healing happens in parts of your head and heart that no one can see. Learning to create a new normal in life also means creating a new normal when it comes to how you deal with discomfort. The hardest part of recovery isn’t necessarily when you’re first learning how to stay away from or replace the behaviors you once had: the hardest part of recovery can be when you think you’re on the right path and then get sneak-attacked by something you didn’t realize was a trigger. That’s why it’s called a trigger – you don’t see it coming and it hits. FAST.

The recovery dance can feel like a risky one. Triggers everywhere. And not a lot to trust. But then again, building trust often times feels like the riskiest feeling of all. And just like building trust in a friendship or romance, the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards.

To be “recovered,” by society’s standards, insinuates being saved by something or someone. And let me be clear: YOU NEED TO ASK FOR HELP. Call. Text. Reach out. Book the appointment. Have someone book it for you. Just involve others. Humans are community-driven creatures. We need each other, in our highest highs and lowest lows.

But no matter how much therapy you go to, treatment you have, or self-help books you read, the only person who can truly save you…is you. Recovery is a choice that comes about with a lot of support, but is spurred into action when you finally say no to your crutches and YES to your capabilities. Recovery is becoming the you YOU know you’re meant to be.

-Katie Horwitch, founder of WANT: Women Against Negative Talk

To me recovery is self-awareness. It’s having the courage to really examine my [body image & food]  thoughts, choices, behaviors and get honest about what the intention behind them is and trying to make the best choice in each moment. For the most part I know what is the most recovered thing to think or do or eat but making that choice again and again each day is where some challenge comes in. I think of  recovery as flexible – it ebbs and flows but more and more each day I lean more towards self-awareness and getting honest about the intentions behind my actions.

Katie Dalebout, host of The Let It Out Podcast

To answer the question of what recovery means to me, it means living my life by a set of principles that were outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, from living with honesty to making amends to trusting in a higher power. I live by those prinicipals in all areas of my life (my food/body, relationships, work, etc) as though my life depended on it – because it does. What I learned when I attended OA was that I have a physical allergy to certain types of food/behaviors and that once I start eating that food or doing that behavior (purging) it is impossible for me to stop. My body and mind are different from other people who do not suffer with the same allergy. I learned that abstaining from those things will give me great freedom. And the only way to abstain and be free is to work a day at a time on what the true problem is: it’s not food, but rather an inability to cope with life.

Food was my solution to my problems and I have since found a new solution: I learned that my illness is never cured but can be arrested on a daily basis if I’m willing to do the work. I have developed a relationship with something outside of myself and I live my life (or try to on a daily basis) to be of service to others. I believe in being honest and looking within myself instead of outside myself at what is wrong with others. I owe my life and everything amazing I have today to the 12 steps. My husband, my family, my job, my changed outlook on life. Through this I have freedom from food obsession, body obsession and can enjoy the deep meaningful things in my life.

-S., WANT reader

Recovery means an internal healing. Recovery is an everyday commitment of introspection, acceptance and a willingness to be vulnerable with the unveiling of your true self.

Recovery is a choice. Recovery is your opportunity to show up for yourself in a profound and permanent way. How you accept yourself, present yourself, and care for yourself is a blessing and a much sweeter blessing when you are confronted with the negative self talk and comfort of falling back into self-sabotaging habits. Every moment you choose your health and your happiness over your past demons you are living your recovery. Take the wins.

-Angela Leigh, wellness + behavioral coach

Recovery is not just the absence of a thought or behavior. It’s putting together a toolbox that will help you get through each and every day without going absolutely bonkers.

-Lynn Chen, actress, blogger + activist

Recovery means freedom. I have the freedom to take chances and risks, experience complete bliss as well as struggle and sadness. The freedom to live life in every moment and in every emotion without the need nor the desire to numb out and resort back to the harmful behaviors my eating disorder once had me trapped in. I am free to bravely live my life in all its glorious beauty and strife  – no hiding in shame and no apologies for my authenticity.
 
`

 

To me, recovery means not having to think about recovery. I got to a point in my recovery when my life was all about recovery — being in it, staying in it, being accountable for it, performing it, etc. I was all about talking about food, posting about nutrition, thinking about my body, reaffirming my body image…it got to the point when I was “so recovered” that my entire identity was recovery.

And so I stopped “recovering” — because I was already recovered. And I went out and tried “discovery” instead. I found interests that brought me outside of the kitchen and the gym and off of social media. I continued to be recovered (not falling back into disordered habits, patterns, mindsets, or behaviors), but I just used all of the extra time I got by not thinking about food or my body to go out and do something fun with my life.

Everyone’s discovery will look different — because no two people have exactly the same interests — which makes it much harder to be prescriptive about than recovery. But you have to go out and try and not be afraid to fail. There’s no wasted time in discovery, even if the thing you try isn’t something you want to do again.

It’s a learning process in which you get to fully come into your own.

– Kaila Prins, body positive wellness coach and founder of Performing Woman

Discovery is a learning process in which you get to fully come into your own - @performingwoman Click To Tweet


WANT YOURSELF:

Now I’d love to hear from you: what does recovery mean to YOU?

Let me know by adding your answer to the mix in the comments – because each of us experience recovery differently, and each of us have a lesson to share. I’ll be featuring some of my favorite answers in the final WANTcast episode of The Recovery Myth.

Can’t wait to hear from you!


Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation in the next round of this miniseries? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.


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WANTcast 036: The Recovery Myth Part 3 – Nathaniel V. Dust, Breathwork For Recovery

WANTcast 036: The Recovery Myth Part 3 – Nathaniel V. Dust, Breathwork For Recovery

Body Community The Recovery Myth the WANTcast

I am so proud to bring you THE RECOVERY MYTH: a new four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

In Part One, we debunked the seven biggest myths and misunderstandings surrounding recovery (read + listen here). In Part Two, I talked to actor, host, blogger, and activist Lynn Chen all about navigating recovery in the midst of social media pressures, food intolerances, and a #bodypos world that sends mixed messages (listen here).

Today, I’m diving in and digging DEEP with Nathaniel V. Dust, healer and founder of Breathwork For Recovery.
Nathaniel has worked as a professional healer for almost a decade, using the power of a person’s breath as a catalyst for positive changes in clients’ lives. Equipped with an arsenal of techniques – with a special focus on breathwork – Nathaniel has helped thousands of people process trauma, disarm negative thought patterns, and maintain healthy and happy relationships with themselves and loved ones.

Trauma isn't what happens to us, it's the imprint and the reaction TO it. - @nathanielvdust Click To Tweet


And while his specialty IS working with treatment centers, it’s not just substance abusers or people with eating disorders who are changed by his work: Nathaniel’s client base ranges from those seeking relief from everyday anxiety to people suffering from severe emotional and physical trauma who are desperate for help. Which is why I truly feel this episode is a MUST-LISTEN for everyone.

Nathaniel will BLOW YOUR MIND with his dissection of trauma, his detailed account of his own recovery, and some alternative forms of therapy you might not have ever know existed (one word: HORSES).

Also important: we talk about how to be acutely aware of your recovery journey, if and when and HOW you can help others who are stuggling if you are still in the thick of it, and AFFORDABLE ways to get help yourself. Because treatment is freaking expensive.

If you’ve ever felt unsettled trauma in your body…if you’ve ever wondered if there was another way to heal…if you have ever been in a toxic relationship or known someone who has…then this is the episode you’re meant to hear today.

WANT NATHANIEL:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

Show notes:
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Breathwork For Recovery

Equine therapy
The 7 biggest recovery myths
Lynn Chen on The Recovery Myth


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.

 

WANTcast 035: The Recovery Myth, Part 2 – Lynn Chen, Actress + Activist

WANTcast 035: The Recovery Myth, Part 2 – Lynn Chen, Actress + Activist

Body The Recovery Myth the WANTcast

I am so proud to bring you THE RECOVERY MYTH: a new four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

In Part One, we debunked the seven biggest myths and misunderstandings surrounding recovery (read + listen here). Today on The Recovery Myth, I’m talking to Lynn Chen, actor, host, blogger, and activist. (If you’ve been following along for a while you probably remember her from episode 4, where we talked about learning how to accept what is, and then moving forward from there.)

Today’s episode with Lynn exceeded all my hopes for this series. Super raw. Somewhat controversial. Intensely personal. Whether you’re in recovery, know someone who is in recovery, or in the midst of your own two-steps-forward-three-steps-back personal journey, I encourage you to not only listen to the episode but SHARE it and TALK about it. And let me know what it brings up for you…because the conversation cannot and should not end once the outro music starts to play.

WANT LYNN:

Listen in iTunes | Play in new window | Download |Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

Show notes:
Lynn Chen
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Youtube

Lynn’s WANT Woman spotlight
NEDA
The GOOD Fest (use WANT10 for $10 off)
The 7 biggest recovery myths


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


WANTcast 034: The Recovery Myth Part One – 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

WANTcast 034: The Recovery Myth Part One – 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

The Recovery Myth the WANTcast

I am so proud to bring you THE RECOVERY MYTH: a new four-part miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery from an eating/body-related disorder or addiction REALLY looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

So, where do we go? Where do we start? The myths themselves. Because it isn’t so much about getting back to normal as it is about creating a new one:


Listen on iTunes | Play in new window | Download | Support the pod by shopping on Amazon via this link

Show Notes:
The Ebbs + Flows Of Body Image on WANT
Lynn Chen on The WANTcast
NEDA


Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes, share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

The Recovery Myth: 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

The Recovery Myth: 7 Common Misconceptions About The New Normal

Body Community The Recovery Myth Tips + Tools

So many of you have asked me questions about eating disorder “recovery.” How to get there. How to stay there. How to exist there.

I’ve avoided writing about recovery – like, really writing about it – for a while. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’ve seen others do it and either face scathing criticism from experts or get unwanted attention and get pinned AS an expert. That’s what being hyper-aware of the internet will do: make you worry yourself into inaction.

I feared that some doctor would read or hear my words and rip me a new one. I feared someone would view my words on recovery as this panacea for basically any and every eating/body issue they’ve ever experienced. I feared WANT would become a recovery-specific movement and was wary of diving in as our community was still finding its legs. Because I am no expert.

But now? Now we’ve got our legs, and now they’re damn. strong. We’ve gotten to the point where I feel it would be irresponsible to NOT address the dark, extreme turn negative self-talk can take, head-on. Especially because I’ve been there.

~

When you’re coming out of a dark place, any solution can seem like THE solution. Nixing the one trigger from your life or following the one pearl of wisdom can feel like you’re finally on the right track. But it’s never the case. Contrary to what most people who haven’t experienced addiction or body/eating-related disorders (which are, many times, just another form of addiction) think, the most vulnerable time isn’t always when you’re IN the darkness. The most vulnerble time can be actually when you’re actively trying to move toward the light.

Recovery is a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back kind of deal. One moment you forget how you could have ever given so much energy to your disorder, the next you’re sideswiped by an inauspicious trigger and you’re suddenly in shackles again. And the main thing I’ve realized in talking to you all about this…is that recovery is still a hazy concept until you’ve gone through and past it.

For all these reasons and more, I am so proud to bring you The Recovery Myth: a miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery really looks like.

I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.

To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.

A few disclaimers:

– The Recovery Myth is a four-part series. Once a month, we’ll dive into The Recovery Myth on the site and the WANTcast, culminating in the first week of October for Mental Health Awareness Week.

– I’ll be focuing primarily on eating/body-related disorders, but will also be touching on substance abuse, as they often stem from the same place mentally and emotionally.

– I know that I’m not the authority on recovery, and I think you know that, too. But like I said above, I am incredibly sensitive to the fact that darkness can drive us to latch onto any answer as THE answer and can create codependent relationships. I am not here to provide anyone with definitive answers, nor am I here to be anyone’s crutch. I AM here, however, to maybe spark a conversation, maybe open some eyes, and ask the hard questions that someone maybe might not feel brave enough asking. And I’m hoping, it can maybe help someone feel powerful enough to seek the change they wish to be. Although, spoiler alert: you’re already powerful enough.

Spoiler alert: you're already powerful enough. Click To Tweet

So, where do we go? Where do we start? The myths themselves. Totally not an exhaustive list (because the whole never-ending exhaustive list is…exhausting), but let’s kick this off by talking the most ::facepalm:: inducing ones of all.

Here are 7 common myths surrounding the concept of “recovery:”

Myth #1: Recovery means getting “back to normal.”

Ever heard the phrase “you can’t unsee it?” You “can’t unsee” your experiences with an eating disorder or addiction. That doesn’t mean an ED or addiction is a life sentence. Kind of like a relationship gone sour, you can either let that relationship dictate your narrative or you can view it as something that led you to become the person you are today. Recovery isn’t so much about getting back to normal as it is about the process of creating a new normal. In this new normal, the disorder or addiction is still a part of your story – it just is not the defining chapter.

Myth #2: Recovery is a set of definitive answers and a straight path to success.

Recovery is like taking three steps forward and two steps back. Then five steps forward and one step back. Then eight steps forward and four steps back. Over and over and over again. Until those steps back become smaller and smaller and smaller and eventually non-existent. No one formula works for everyone, and no one path is linear.

Myth #3: Recovery is all about changing what you DO.

Yes, your relationship with food, exercise, and your body desperately need to be healed – but you can’t To-Do-List away a paradigm shift.

For a good long while (think years), I did just enough to convince other people I was trying to get better. That I was trying to be the person I once was. It backfired really badly. I would eat in secret. I would not eat for an entire day – yes, even if I was hungry – in order to consume a large dinner and “show” people I was back to normal. I created rules, regulations, strategies, and stipulations that no one could see from the outside.

In reality, an eating disorder is NOT about the food. It’s never about the food. It’s about the mindset, the control, and a larger problem desperately trying to be fixed. The food, the substance, the exercise, WHATEVER it is, is symptomatic, not causative. Which is why saying things like Just Eat, Stop Eating, Don’t Exercise, or Don’t Drink aren’t just ineffective, they’re insensitive. It’s also why, as the person trying to recover, you can’t simply address the surface-level stuff and call it a day. The real healing happens in parts of your head and heart that no one can see.

Myth #4: After you recover from an eating disorder, you’ll never think a negative thought about your body again (but if you do, you’ve relapsed).

There is a difference between relapsing and being human. We all have up and down days when it comes to the way we feel about ourselves or what we see in the mirror. The difference between negative thoughts and a mental disorder is that with the latter, those negative thoughts dictate your every move and start to steal your voice, your space, and your life away. Like I’ve said before, you can have moments of not liking your body but still loving your body. That’s normal. What’s not normal is when eating disorders steal the love away. Learning to create a new normal in life also means creating a new normal when it comes to how you deal with discomfort.

Myth #5: If you don’t look like you have a disorder, you don’t really have a problem.

LOLz to this ignorance. It’s not just young women – young, white, heterosexual, and middle/upper-class women, to be trope-specific – who develop eating disorders. It’s not just underweight people who are in danger. It’s not just those who have broken homes or relationship friction. Men, women, and non-binary folks of all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses, backgrounds, and body types can and DO develop eating disorders. All the time. To generalize is to deny a huge chunk of the population a chance at being seen. According to NEDA, “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified).” It’s not about what you or your life look like, it’s about what’s going on underneath. No one is immune to developing an eating disorder.

Myth #6: The hardest part of recovery is abstinence.

The hardest part of recovery isn’t necessarily when you’re first learning how to stay away from or replace the behaviors you once had. The hardest part of recovery can be when you think you’re on the right path and then get sneak-attacked by something you didn’t realize was a trigger. That’s why it’s called a trigger. You don’t see it coming and it hits. FAST. The recovery dance can feel like a risky one. Triggers everywhere. And not a lot to trust. But then again, building trust often times feels like the riskiest feeling of all. And just like building trust in a friendship or romance, the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards.

The biggest risks reap the biggest rewards. Click To Tweet

Myth #7: You need to be at your lowest low in order to seek out recovery 

I read an eye-opening fact today on The Endometrisis Coalitions Instagram account stating that the “Stage” of endometriosis doesn’t dictate the amount of pain the stage causes. Someone with Stage 2 endo can have more severe pain than someone with Stage 4 endo. I immediately thought of eating disorders and how, often times, people think they or their loved ones are not “bad enough” to need recovery. But just like with a chronic illness or a feeling of grief, no one person’s experience is more or less valid than anyone else’s. What’s going on underneath the surface is what counts – and if it’s affecting your life for the worse, it warrants intervention.

~

To be completely transparent, even though I technically fit the bill, I have a very hard time identifying with the word “recovered” and calling it a day. Because it barely scratches the surface. My “recovery” looks like way more than a Before And After photo (which is why you won’t be seeing any of those on WANT). It’s not that think the word, or concept rather, has gotten a bad rap…it’s just gotten the wrong rap.

To be “recovered,” by society’s standards, insinuates being saved by something or someone. And let me be clear: YOU NEED TO ASK FOR HELP. Call. Text. Reach out. Book the appointment. Have someone book it for you. Just involve others. Humans are community-driven creatures. We need each other, in our highest highs and lowest lows.

But no matter how much therapy you go to, treatment you have, or self-help books you read, the only person who can truly save you…is you. It’s a choice that comes about with a lot of support, but is spurred into action when you finally say no to your crutches and YES to your capabilities.

Let’s let go of the old ideas that we can get back to who we once were once upon a time. Let’s start to think of RECOVERY as it really is. Something better than once upon a time: becoming the you YOU know you’re meant to be.

 

Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.

Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at katie@womenagainstnegativetalk.com and we can get to talking.


Never miss a post. Ever. Sign up + join the WANT movement:


The WANT Women: Jessie Kahnweiler On Being Loud, Honest, And Here

The WANT Women: Jessie Kahnweiler On Being Loud, Honest, And Here

Body WANT Women

To those of us who have struggled with eating disorders, disordered tendencies, whatever you want to call them – many times the portrayal of eating disorders on tv and in film can hit closer to fiction than reality. They’re shown as what people think they’re like instead of what they’re actually like. They’re danced around and treated like cardinal sins, when in the moment a, say, binging episode, feels less like a stop-the-presses plot moment and more like a reaction akin to laughing or crying. Hell, from the outside, it can even look humorous.

Jessie Kahnweiler is at the front of the pack when it comes to the marriage of brutal honesty and brazen humor – a brilliant juxtaposition giving a voice to women’s experiences and issues normally pushed under the table.

impossible-quote-jessie

In her Sundance-acclaimed short series The Skinny, Jessie plays herself, telling her own story of a fledgling YouTube star suffering from bulemia. Written and directed by Jessie herself (plus produced by Transparent/Six Feet Under’s Jill Soloway and Refinery29, where the entire series is available…nbd to all), The Skinny is darkly comedic and brutally honest.

As someone who’s struggled with eating issues, it’s like a deep, refreshing exhale to see them portrayed as a “normal” part of someone’s life (although in reality it’s anything but) instead of one uber-dramatic scene/plot point after the other. Lord knows when I was restricting, binging, portioning off 1/2-cup bags of All-Bran in my dorm room, etc, none of it felt like a dramatic climax. It felt like a routine part of my life. And eventually, like I life I realized I so desperately wanted to break free from.

And that’s what Jessie does: she depicts the life of a woman whose “normal” has gone so awry, it’s started to affect who she is out in the world. 

I am terrified to fail, but I do it anyway - on a daily basis. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet

jessie-kahnweiler

Some parts of The Skinny are hard to stomach – no pun intended – but strangely enough (or not?), most of them aren’t the ED parts. They’re the parts when she’s dealing with her mother who knows needs mothering herself, when she’s getting torn apart by potential brand partners for being “too real” or being side-eye’dly told how “out there” her work is, when she’s hoping to be accepted and loved and it goes downhill fast. Because these feelings of self-consciousness and longing to be loved are universal: it’s just that someone with an eating disorder like bulemia deals with them differently.

What I love about Jessie is that she is somehow able to do the undoable. She is able to infuse wisdom and humor into tough topics without tearing down others or shutting people out in the meantime. She walks that fine line between self aware, self righteous, self sacrificing, and ever-so-slightly self deprecating so incredibly well, making her sketches and short films able to resonate on a level that sticks with you for the long haul. She tells her stories with humor – because as she noted in this awesome interview with Indiewire, her reality 100% includes humor.

Three words to describe me: Loud. Honest. HERE. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet

She does not discount the seriousness of the issues at hand – rather, she brings a reality to them that might, in other hands, seem more like an over-dramatization. What Jessie does as a filmmaker and feminist is the exact opposite of over-dramatization: she uses humor as a gateway to shine the spotlight on issues we usually, as a culture, dance around. She’s telling the story not of her suffering, but ultimately of her road to recovery. And yes – humor played a part in that.

jessie-kahnweiler

The more of us willing to be bold and tell our stories without giving into the temptation of shame, the better off we are as a whole. Girls. Transparent. Heck, most of us forget that even Sex And The City was shocking at the time! Some of these stories might not be easy to watch or easy to understand – but the point is not for it to be EASY to understand. The point is that these are stories of real women – women who differ from the mainstream media image of what a woman is, who most all of us are not but most all of us at some point think we should be.

These are women whose stories we’re all better off for hearing – and ultimately, with the help of women like Jessie opening the door to the work of radical empathy, better off for really, truly, deeply understanding.

WANT JESSIE.
jessie-kahnweiler


Name: Jessie Kahnweiler


How you’d know me: Filmmaker, Feminist, that loud chick you sat behind in Hebrew school.


What I love about myself (and why): That I’m not afraid to fail. Well…I am terrified to fail, but I do it anyway – on a daily basis.


What is your definition of “positivity?” Self-acceptance. Keeping it real with yourself and giving yourself a break.


When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love “turning point?” When I got into recovery for my eating disorder and realized that I am not the center of the universe and that perfection is not human.


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: When I feel overwhelmed with work and boys. When I don’t get enough alone time.


When I talk negatively about myself, it’s usually… Telling myself that I am not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, sexy enough, chill enough – ENOUGH.

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When others talk negatively about themselves… It’s frustrating because it hits close to home. Does not make me want to go on a second date.


It baffles me that women still… Blame our bodies for everything.


I wish that more women… were running D.C.


The coolest thing about women is… Our collective spirit – the divine feminine energy that effortlessly pours from us.


My favorite way to shift a negative into a positive: Write the shit out of it.


My top female role models: My Grandmothers Ruth and Lucille, Eleanor Roosevelt, and my older sister Lindsey – who is a nurse practitioner, mother, wife, runner, and totally rocked a belly button ring before it was cool.


Men can help women crush their negative talk patterns by… Giving us space to feel. To just be.

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Favorite negativity-busting activity: Asking ANYONE besides myself “How are you doing?”


Fave self-love ritual: Bubble bath. Masturbate. Netflix.


Favorite feel-good food(s): Beer!


Favorie movie or TV show to watch when I’m feeling down: Love and Basketball; Center Stage


Favorite empowering book(s): Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters – A tough important read that rocked me to my core.

PerfectGirlsStarvingDaughters


My feel-good playlist: A little Kendrick Lamar and a lot of Drake


Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Take advantage of nap time
…14 year-old self: Don’t rush to have sex
…24 year old self: Don’t fake orgasms – it helps no one!


5 Things, personal or professional, on my bucket list: Marry Drake. Create my own television show. Create foundation for young women to make movies about whatever they want. Be half as cool as my Grandma.


My best tip on self love: Breathe. Show up for your feelings. All of them.

Breathe. Show up for your feelings. All of them. - @jesskahnweiler Click To Tweet

When I truly love all of myself… I am connected spiritually to what’s beyond me.


Right now, I am most excited about… The great unknown.


My body is: A gift that keeps on giving.


Three words to describe me: Loud. Honest. HERE.


Current mantra: It’s impossible for you to fuck it up.

jessie-kahnweiler

WANT more Jessie?
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The Skinny on Refinery29

Photo credits: Patrick Gookin