Controversial Lady Gaga Photos

Photos can be triggering to those with eating disorders.

Posted Sep 26, 2012

Dear Lady Gaga,

I want to thank you for sharing your personal struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I admire your courage and strength in coping with the recent, brutal media attention, as well as revealing a very difficult issue. There are thousands of men and women around the world that will benefit from your story and your Body Revolution campaign. It is likely that you will inspire numerous people to seek much needed treatment. Also, creating a space on your website for people to chronicle their own struggles is a positive step forward in creating a supportive community. Eating disorders can isolate people. Steps to reach out to them can be very healing. Again, thank you for your tremendous efforts!

For people who do not have eating disorders or are in a good place in their recovery, the pictures are a rare and candid look at a celebrity without airbrushing and in the process of accepting her body as it is. One minor note of caution, for those who have eating disorders, seeing pictures may fuel rather than reduce body scrutiny (although not for everyone). Brain scans have found increased emotional activity in the brain when people with eating disorders view another person's body.*  Body image and weight are definitely part of the disorder. However, they are also about coping with your feelings and are a complex biopsychosocial problem. So, perhaps there may be a compromise–a warning that the photos could be triggering to someone who is the beginning of recovery.

Again, thank you for bringing attention to eating disorders! This is an amazing step forward. I wish you well on your own journey to healthy, mindful eating and living.

*Neural Correlates of Viewing Photographs of One's Own Body and Other's Body and Another Women's Body in Anorexia and Bulimia: an fMRI study. Journal of Psychiatry Neurosci. 2010

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See Dr. Susan Albers' new book, But I Deserve This Chocolate: The 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully 2nd edition (order now!). Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health, etc., and seen on The Dr. Oz Show on TV.