Ed comes everywhere with me!
—by Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC, LPC-S
Who is Ed?
Ed’s name comes from an acronym E.D., as in eating disorder. You might recognize Ed as the voice inside that says “you just need to lose a few pounds”, or “do you know how many calories are in that?”. Ed is the one who stares back at you from the mirror and says that you should be dissatisfied with your appearance. Ed comes with us everywhere…including all our errands, our volunteer sites and workplaces.
In our workplaces (whether that’s paid or volunteer work), we experience Ed in different ways than we experience Ed at home or shopping or on vacation.
How we conform to the image supported by our workplace influences Ed’s everyday participation in our job. Some of us experience Ed more concretely than others, but everyone who does have Ed at work knows the general pain we all share.
Would you like to have a workday without Ed’s participation?
If so, read on for an exercise on possibly separating Ed from your daily work.
First a little information:
Our workplaces are environments that create group and individual expectations. These expectations can impact us to the level of how we function within the environment.
Contemporary theories regarding the development of disordered eating include sociocultural, environmental, and genetic factors. Environmental stress can trigger the onset of disordered eating patterns as well. … Davis and Katzman (1999) note that “by definition, acculturation is the process by which one group asserts its influence over another and what happens is likely to be difficult, reactive, and conflictual, affecting one’s physical as well as psychological functioning.”
That blip of research provides a beginning affirmation of how we are expected to conform at work. The pressure to conform increases the potential that Ed will begin coaching us on how we should look while in our daily work.
Next, a few reflective questions:
Have you ever considered the following questions to ask Ed?
- Why do you try to control my appearance at work?
- Why won’t you leave me alone?
What about these questions to ask yourself? (Try substituting “church” for “workplace” too)
- What does it mean to be a woman/female in my workplace?
- How AM I supposed to look in my workplace to do my job?
- What am I compromising by conforming to Ed’s demands at work?
As thoughts come in response to these questions, begin to notice your body’s responses, the thoughts Ed tries to add, and your desire for next steps. Talk with God about these.
Talk with your counselor or treatment team coordinator about having a workplace free of Ed.
Ed is pretty common and most people experience this voice to some degree. A trained counselor who understands body image, Ed, and the various forms of eating issues and disorders can help release Ed’s voice for good.