Body Positivity: Celebrating Every Body and the Person Within

Body Positivity. Two buzzwords and a very hot topic in today’s society. But what does it really mean, and how do premier treatment centers like Sierra Tucson incorporate this concept into their therapeutic milieu? Scott Frazier, MSC, manager of Sierra Tucson’s Eating Recovery Services, explains.

Q: What is Sierra Tucson’s stance on body positivity?
SF: At Sierra Tucson, we teach residents to be loving and kind to their bodies. Many residents need to make amends to their bodies, treating them with love and respect. We challenge body-hatred talk by helping individuals explore a healthy approach toward a body-positive attitude.

Residents start to develop a new pathway of love and acceptance. This pathway increases the more they focus on what they like about their bodies. We encourage residents to think about self-love and offer ways in which to show compassion toward self. Residents get in touch with new body sensations and learn how to love and be connected with their bodies. Self-love and how one views self is a highly important piece that builds the foundation of being in touch with one’s body. It also reinforces the idea that when an individual treats his or her body well, positive feelings ensue. Truly, body positivity is vital to a person’s emotional wellbeing.

Q: How do Sierra Tucson’s Eating Recovery Services contribute to the message of body positivity?
SF: Sierra Tucson believes that disordered eating exists in tandem with one or multiple other disorders, including depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, trauma, or chronic pain. Our Eating Recovery Services place emphasis on the idea that the body is sacred and must to be treated with care. In other words, it mustn’t be starved or stuffed full of food. As part of their treatment, we help residents find a meal plan that works for them and nourishes their bodies in a healthy manner.

Residents can start practicing self-care by replacing disordered eating behaviors with healthy new behaviors. Somatic Experiencing® Therapy helps a person understand how the body responds to trauma or anxiety and how he or she has turned to unhealthy coping skills. Yoga helps one to understand the sensations of the body and how his or her body is something to be enjoyed. Support groups with an emphasis on body expression help residents understand that expression versus restriction leads to body positivity. Sierra Tucson’s Therapeutic & Recreational Activities Program help individuals understand that creating and overcoming vulnerability within the body leads to a stronger, more empowered view of the body. Residents experience what it’s like to stop engaging in disordered eating patterns during their time at Sierra Tucson. Consequently, they feel a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished and have faith that they can continue with long-term recovery outside of treatment.

We have seen dramatic improvements and witnessed residents reach goals and make momentous strides after completing treatment at Sierra Tucson. Our integrative approach “care-fronts” the way one looks and feels about his or her body and integrates evidence-based practices to fully address the trauma, addiction, and/or mood issues that are the root cause of disordered eating behaviors.

Q: What are some tools that professionals can offer their clients to promote body positivity in their own practice?
1.    Learn to challenge negative body talk in an encouraging way
2.    Align yourself with the healthy aspects of your client
3.    Encourage your client to use his/her body by participating in pleasurable, non-addictive activities
4.    Recommend reputable books about how to heal from disordered eating behaviors
5.    Help your client start to feel and embrace new sensations in his/her body
6.    Help your client treat his/her body as a vessel to his/her soul

For more information about Sierra Tucson’s comprehensive residential programs, please call our Admissions Coordinators at (800) 842-4487.