Thanksgiving’s destructive effect on body dysmorphia


Erinn Gardner

Countless Americans eagerly anticipate expressing gratitude and indulging in mouthwatering Thanksgiving food each November. However, a substantial amount dreads the holiday. People commonly use it as justification to comment on others’ bodies. This can trigger those who suffer from eating disorders or feel self-conscious about their outward appearance.

Erinn Gardner, Editor-In-Chief

As millions of Americans look forward to giving thanks and partaking in delicious Thanksgiving delicacies every November, an ample amount feels completely the opposite. It not only triggers those who suffer from and continues to recover from eating disorders, but people frequently use it as an excuse to fat shame and speak about others’ appearances. Expectations can lead to a genuine sense of fear, shame and anxiety in people with eating disorders. While someone with bulimia or a binge-eating disorder may find it difficult to control their cravings, another suffering from anorexia may stand concerned with eating sufficient amounts of food in order to feel normal to the public eye.

Fortunately, one can prevent this unsettling feeling in different ways. Setting boundaries and celebrating with positive people stand necessary, as they will likely refrain from making pessimistic comments about food intake. A handful of people cannot necessarily control who attends their Thanksgiving dinner, but they can definitely attempt to limit their interactions with those who cause their mental health to suffer. 

“Thanksgiving is really big in my house and it’s something that I look forward to every year, so it makes me sad to know that some people’s family and friends aren’t supportive of their dietary choices and constantly critique them. In fact, family is one of the most important parts of it for me on Thanksgiving, so I definitely think that being with people who are sensitive and aware of what they say can prevent this,” senior Laila Odom said. 

These negative people do not always carry harmful intentions, however, individuals must make conscious efforts to abstain from making detrimental remarks or complimenting someone in a backhanded manner. These comments include telling a person that their body looks amazing because they lost weight since the last time they saw them, or pointing out the number of plates of food that they served themselves. Whether intended to carry damaging effects or not, these words will stick with a person and worsen their relationship with food. 

On the other hand, others do not always trigger body dysmorphia. Unfortunately for a multitude of people, the fear and anxiety simply come from the thought of the sheer amounts of food they will stay around. They feel as though they will not possess self-control when an array of dishes sit on the table in front of them; this causes them to feel either obligated to indulge in food or not partake in any at all to please the people around them. While the public does not necessarily speak down on them, they hold the fear of judgment from the people they eat with, as well as themselves.

“I personally do not struggle with body image, but I know of many people that do and they absolutely hate Thanksgiving because the holiday is centered around food and they worry about what people around them think of them. I wish everyone had uplifting people around them, but unfortunately, not everyone does so they can’t really enjoy it to their fullest potential,” Odom said.