International Women’s Day takes place March 8th, 2019 and this year’s theme is Balance For Better, which incorporates focusing on a more gender-balanced world, celebrating women’s achievements and raising awareness against bias. International Women’s Day is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. International Women’s Day first emerged from the activities of labor movements at the turn of the twentieth century (1909) in North America and across Europe. Since those early years, International Women’s Day has assumed a new global dimension for women in developed and developing countries alike. Women often struggle with the dichotomy of raising a family versus joining the workforce and many women, choose to do both successfully. From household chores, raising the kids, bringing home a paycheck, and maintaining society’s view of feminism and beauty in a male-dominated culture, women can feel pressured and disempowered. Women are often sexualized and are told by society they should look a certain way especially in regards to their body type. This pressure, as well as many underlying triggers, can lead to body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and disordered eating. Women are twice as likely to develop an eating disorder compared to men as eating disorders affect 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States. Common eating disorders that are diagnosed in women include anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and bulimia nervosa. All of which stem from similar underlying triggers. Perfectionism in the media, body shaming on the Internet, and the billion-dollar beauty industry can make females feel disempowered and unattractive which only leads to self-doubt, negative thinking, and unhealthy comparisons. Women are strong and are the pillars of our society, and therefore it is essential always be active in taking leaps forward into a gender-balanced world.

As we approach International Women’s Day instead of focusing on perfectionism, power, and beauty, it seems more realistic and healthy to focus on balance, which includes flaws as well as success. Women including Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Malala Yousafzai, and Michelle Obama are all strong female leaders who embraced their imperfections, overcame challenges, and changed the world for the better.

Women role models in eating disorder recovery
Women often experience greater barriers to entering treatment programs such as socioeconomic barriers, interpersonal barriers, and often carrying the primary caregiver role for children. Once a woman enters into eating disorder treatment, she also faces unique challenges. Complicated family dynamics, higher rates of domestic abuse, and high rates of complex trauma all pose challenges for women entering treatment. Women often enter into treatment with negative, distorted views of themselves and their place in the world. Having female role models and female treatment specialists in the eating disorder recovery realm can help empower women clients and lead them to a healthier female-centered recovery. From nutritionists and dietitians to therapists, social workers and psychiatrists; many eating disorder treatment specialists are women, and these female treatment specialists can have a lasting impact on one woman’s recovery. As females in recovery, it is our responsibility to empower one another, in a society that is often trying to tear us down.

“As women, we have to start appreciating our own worth and each other’s worth. Seek out strong women to befriend, to align yourself with, to learn from, to collaborate with, to be inspired by, to support, and enlightened by.” – Madonna