Full recovery is possible for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) struggling with eating disorders. Culturally sensitive treatment can support eating disorder recovery among BIPOC, incorporating who we are, our lived experiences, and our unique needs to help us heal.
These 3 keys may help BIPOC in Eating Disorders Recovery:
Connect with Treatment Providers Committed to Inclusion & Social Justice
Many of us who identify as BIPOC quickly recognize when we are in affirming, welcoming, and safe spaces. Recovery from an eating disorder is a profoundly personal and vulnerable bio-psycho-social-spiritual healing process. Our therapists, dietitians, alternative healers, physicians, coaches, and others must recognize when we struggle and understand our perspectives, with all our layers of complexity and depth, even if we hold shared identities and experiences.
When professionals consider eating disorders as ways we manage the stress of racism and oppression, they create openings to more complexly explore the function of the eating disorder and what we need in recovery.
When professionals consider eating disorders as ways we manage the stress of racism and oppression, they create openings to more complexly explore the function of the eating disorder and what we need in our recovery. Trust, respect and open conversations about race, ethnicity, socialization, discrimination, and biases can help us determine compatibility for working together as we identify our treatment team. For many of us, treatment providers committed to inclusion and social justice create healing environments that may feel more aligned or affirming in our eating disorder recovery.
Nurture Racial Identity/Identities & Heal from Racism and Oppression
Connecting with who we are is part of eating disorders recovery. Our racial identities, like other identities, are in an ongoing process of development and tied to memories, history, and celebration. Understanding how our racial identities have developed, and our experiences of belonging and othering, allow us to heal often unacknowledged wounds. These wounds may fuel our eating disorder behaviors. In recovery, we learn to tend to our wounds with compassion and love, becoming rooted in all of who we are.
In recovery, we learn to tend to our wounds with compassion and love, becoming rooted in all of who we are.
For some, eating disorders recovery may also include decolonizing from the pervasive messages of diet culture, white supremacy, and anti-blackness. Trauma-informed therapy, building relationships, mindfulness-based practices, and working with alternative healers may also be resources for us as we heal from eating disorders, mental health struggles, and the wounds from racism and oppression.
Connect with Community
Much of recovery happens through relationships with others. Connecting with loved ones and friends with shared identities can draw in support, provide different perspectives during challenging moments and amplify joy during our times of celebration in eating disorders recovery. Exploring our creativity, joyful expressions, and passed-down traditions connect us with others and purpose. Using our voices through storytelling and advocacy may also empower us, combat stigma, and create a better future.
Connections and community create sanctuaries of understanding and acceptance when we need reminders to honor who we are.
Many of us may feel a sense of belonging in relationships and spaces where we are seen without codeswitching or contorting to be understood. Involvement with community centers, non-profits, and spiritual organizations that support BIPOC from the same, and other racial groups, may facilitate building community and this sense of belonging while serving the collective. These connections can also create sanctuaries of understanding and acceptance when we need reminders to take pride and honor who we are.
Looking for Help or Therapy?
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and related mental health conditions, we offer culturally sensitive eating disorder treatment options.
Parts of this blog come from an original article published in the Eating Disorder Recovery Support (EDRS) February 2021 Newsletter.