Cara Bohon, PhD, is the Vice President of Clinical Programs at EQUIP, an organization committed to providing evidence-based care for families recovering from eating disorders. She has studied eating disorders and body image for more than 15 years, and prior to her time at EQUIP, she was a faculty member at Stanford University.
In this episode of the podcast, Cara joins Screen Sanity co-founder Krista Boan for a wide-ranging conversation about the ways our children — especially our girls — are having their understanding of beauty and body image formed online and through social media. Cara also helps us understand how as parents, our relationship with social media — the photos we take, the ways we invest our attention — are also forming what our children value and how they think. Together, Cara and Krista explore a variety of practical ways we can rethink how we engage with our children as they make their way into this world, and how we might connect more deeply with them as we accompany them on their journey.
Screen Sanity is executive produced and hosted by Krista Boan.
It’s produced, edited, and mixed by Cosper Productions.
[00:00:00] Krista Boan: Hey friends, welcome back. You know, it’s been a minute since we’ve released new episodes on the Screen Sanity Podcast. And so before we jump in with today’s guest, I just need to pause and celebrate something. Today’s episode is the first episode we are recording under our new name, Screen Sanity. I just wanted to give you a quick tour of the reason that our name changed from our old name START.
You know, we know that the need is great when it comes to families just feeling overwhelmed by the challenges of raising healthy and happy kids in this increasingly digital world. And we also know that Screen Sanity has the resources that can help, including our highly acclaimed Screen Sanity program. But as we’ve thought about how to best help folks find us, we have identified a roadblock.
Our old name START was not searchable or intuitive in communicating what we have to offer families. And that’s not okay if we want as many families as possible to find us and to trust us and to tell others about our resources. So, we are hoping that aligning our new brand name with our world class program and podcast will more clearly communicate the help and hope that we have to offer so that more families can maximize the benefits of the digital world, but minimize the side effects. And today we get to talk about a very real side effect that we are all experiencing in the digital world, but especially our kids.
The pressure the digital world has on our body image. Before we jump in, I just wanna give y’all a quick disclaimer. This topic, body image, um, it’s just challenging for me to explore Body image issues are slightly outta my wheelhouse. I’ve been so fortunate to only have had to experience things like eating disorders at a distance.
I’ve never had a personal crisis that forced me to go in deep, um, and an understanding of this. So this is all new good stuff, um, for me to be learning about because guess what? I’m a person with a body and I’m raising four people who have bodies. And in a world where we’re bombarded by social media messages about what our bodies mean, I just feel so compelled to understand how this could impact our family.
So we’re grateful today to be joined by Cara Bohon. She’s the VP of Clinical Programs at EQUIP. It’s a treatment center for families facing eating disorders. Cara has more than 15 years of experience as an executive, a clinician, and a researcher, and her particular expertise is in ways to successfully intervene on body image concerns. So, Kara, welcome to the Screen Sandy podcast. We are so grateful to have you here today.
[00:02:55] Cara Bohon: I appreciate that level setting. I also really appreciate your comment that you do have a body, everyone has a body, so therefore everyone has actually body image. So we can dig into that a little bit later.
But yeah, I appreciate that.
[00:03:05] Krista Boan: Could we just start with your story? Could you just take us on a journey of what led you to become passionate about body image?
[00:03:12] Cara Bohon: Yeah, sure. So I, I started showing an interest in the eating disorder field all the way back to high school. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school where there were actually quite a number of students and my friends who were struggling with eating disorders over the course of my high school years, and it was something that always perplexed me a bit.
These were great people that I loved. I thought they had great families, they got good grades, they had friends. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong and why they would be inflicted with, with something like an eating disorder. And it, it sparked both a desire to make a change and do something different in addition to a desire to really figure it out.
I’m a naturally curious person and I realized that. Without having an answer and knowing really what the connections were that brought about eating disorders, I wasn’t sure how successful we would be at actually solving them and treating them. And so when I went to college, I, um, ended up becoming a psychology major and got into the research field and really tried to think about what are the pathways, what are the things that impact people’s eating that that impact people’s drive to restrict their eating or to binge or purge, or the behaviors that we see in the context of eating disorders.
And it took me on a very long academic research path where I ended up training to become a clinician in addition to, to studying sort of the underlying processes that bring upon these disorders. And one of the pervasive factors that the research has shown us in the development of eating disorders is some facet of body image.
It permeates throughout a number of eating disorders with one of the core symptoms of the main eating disorders that people think of. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Is this sort of overvaluation of weight or shape or sort of an, a heightened emphasis on someone’s weight in shape as a measure of their self-worth?
And when you think about that as a, as an underlying symptom, you can start to make these connections of where these disruptions are occurring. We also know that adolescence is a peak period of her onset of the disorders. And during adolescence, obviously bodies are changing immensely and, and so much growth and natural increases in someone’s body fat and shape changes and things like that.
And so, there’s this clear connection between all these body changes that are happening naturally in adolescence and. This emphasis on looks and appearance that appear all at the same time, that sort of come together. And there’s some research into different pathways of an emphasis on body image. And this idea that, you know, for, for, for girls, typically it’s this idea that thin is good and idealized.
For boys, it’s more of this like muscularity and then with other gender identities. Differences in, in appearance ideals, but they start to really come online during adolescence. And so, this overlap between the timeframe when eating disorders develop, the changes in the body, the emphasis on appearance and looks during this developmental phase of life really started to highlight the importance for me.
At the same time in my research career, when I went to grad school, I was working with Dr. Eric STIs was my mentor, and he is well known for discovering a theory of the development of eating disorders that you, that has a pathway basically between body image and an internalization of appearance ideals leading to feeling bad about your bodies leading to negative affect or like low mood, which then leads to the body image, uh, no, sorry to the eating disorder symptoms.
And he started to develop prevention programs, really targeting body image. And anyway, so when I started graduate school working with him, I started digging a lot deeper into body image.
[00:07:07] Krista Boan: I hear you decoupling the words body image and eating disorder. Do you find that people oftentimes overlap those and misunderstand that they’re separate things?
[00:07:16] Cara Bohon: I, I’m actually gonna walk back a little bit and say, I think almost the misunderstanding comes with a misunderstanding of eating disorders themselves. Sure. Rather than assess a misunderstanding about body image eating disorders, I think have a strong stereotypical image that when people think about eating disorders, they’re generally thinking about anorexia nervosa.
Yeah. And they usually have an image of a thin, white teenage girl is probably the picture that comes into their head. And in that, I think people then embed this body image. Peace with it and it morphs into, oh, this obsessionality with your body, that then leaves you to starve yourself. And it’s a gross oversimplification of what eating disorders are, and it’s also leaves out a huge percentage of people who end up with eating disorders who do not fit that stereotype, and it does the eating disorder world a big disservice.
And it results in misdiagnosis. Misdiagnosis as well. People come in, we’ll go into the doctor with. Weight loss and gastrointestinal distress and all these kinds of things. And they will not get diagnosed with an eating disorder because they don’t fit that picture, or they don’t come in with a huge statement about hating their bodies or things like that.
And because this conflation between this image that we have in our heads of, of eating disorders, I think a lot of people start to push the two together. And so I wanna first kind of level set. That to be able to pull it apart a little bit. That’s super
[00:08:48] Krista Boan: helpful. So this was like the gateway for you. You got really interested in eating disorders and then that kinda even honed down until this one contributor, which is body image. Is that right?
[00:08:59] Cara Bohon: In my research career, I’ve also, I’ve done a lot of, I did neuro imaging research where we looked at brain activity and brain response to various things and triggers that impact eating disorders. And so, I think that’s the other thing is that body image is one component of a. Possible pathway to an eating disorder, but it is not the sole factor.
If it were true, and this is again pulling back to the separation, the distinction between body image and eating disorders. If it were true that a negative body image meant you were going to end up with an eating disorder, we’d probably all have eating disorders because the statistics on feeling bad about your bodies wanting to change something about your bodies shows a vast majority of Americans in particular because of the pervasiveness of.
Appearance ideals in our society. And we can talk more about where those come from later, but because those are so pervasive, we almost all have things we dislike about our bodies or hate about our bodies. And so if it really were the fact that body image leads directly to an eating disorder, we would all have it.
And so it’s way more complex than that. And so my research into brain imaging, for example, really showed there are neurological differences, there are brain differences that go on, and yet, Body image is definitely a contributor for a lot of people.
[00:10:19] Krista Boan: So let me circle us back to drilling down into just how our bodies are changing in adolescence and how that’s where everything starts to get heightened around, like our awareness of our body image.
I guess one of the things that Screen Sanity that we try to do is we try to just reflect on the way that the problems our kids are facing today. Body image being just one. That they’re completely exacerbated by the pressures of the digital wor world at their core, but they, I’m sorry, by the digital world, but at their core, they represent things that we too struggled with as kids and young adults.
And so when I think back to my adolescence and I think about the struggles that I had to face, That helps provide empathy for kind of the situation that my kids are going through. So if I think about my, my adolescence and what it meant to try to get dolled up for a photo to achieve the level of perfection that social media portrays.
Like what? Like the things that I would have to do, I can remember. Do you remember the glamor shots? Place in the mall. You used to have to go and then you’d have to…
[00:11:25] Krista Boan: Oh yes, definitely. Remember glamor shots. I really wanted glamor shots, but my mom would never take me and that’s okay. But she went,
[00:11:32] Cara Bohon: right. Oh, same.
[00:11:34] Krista Boan: I’m in the same boat. Right. And so you would take these, you’d get all all up. You’d put all this work into actually looking your very best. Which isn’t that different from today, but then you’d have to wait for the photo to be printed. And then once it came out, you only have two or three options of which one your best one was.
Right. But if we think about our kids today, like how is that experience different? Yeah, right. Watch a makeup tutorial on YouTube first. Certain poses that we need to put our bodies into, to contort, to, to portray certain things. And then once the, once we actually take the picture, we actually take it. Yeah.
Even with my youngest child, the littlest girls in her class, I’ll see them posing for pictures and they’ll be standing in the same form. And I don’t know if they watch the TikTok tutorials or not, but they’re swimming in a culture that is telling them that there’s a way to look if their body matters.
Talk. Can you talk a little bit about the ways that social media is contributing or influencing. Our body image.
[00:12:35] Cara Bohon: I love that you did the like compare contrast to like when we were that age in the sense of it’s not that it wasn’t there, obviously eating disorders have existed for decades, upon decades.
We’ve known that body image disturbance and distress has been present for decades upon decades, and it has always manifested in some way. There’s always been an appearance ideal. It has shifted over time, and so there’s been always been some way for those ideals to be transmitted.
So, if you think back to like Victorian eras, people would wear corsets, big bustled skirts to create the larger imagery, right? And so there’s always been appearance ideals. They have shifted over time. There’s always been some kind of way that people learned that, oh, this is the, this is the sought after way to look. When we were younger, it was magazines.
It was each other that we would see walking around with our makeup. It’s always been conveyed in some way to be. The biggest, I think perpetrators, if we wanna use that kind of a word, has often been family. And you know, the ways in which, in unknowing or absolutely not in harm tending ways in which like even our own parents at times have said, oh, you better watch that.
Or, oh, look at your, that’s getting a little tight. That shirt’s getting a little tight. And those kind of comments has sent some of those messages over time. And so there’s been a lot of ways that we’ve received the message and yet it has just ballooned. Social media and the ability for people to change their appearance with filters that to change the way that they look.
It used to be. You look at magazines, those were all photoshopped. Maybe you knew it. You probably didn’t. Actually, early on, I think we started to learn about Photoshop later, but they were all photoshopped. They didn’t really look like that. Plus they were taking the extreme models anyway, who were genetically just different.
And so those were the ones you saw, but at least your friends looked like your friends. They looked more human, more normal, not the. Rarity of the models that were in the magazines today with filters and with all of these selfie tutorials and all the things that people are posting and sharing now, even your friends don’t look like themselves.
They look like enhanced, perfected, idealized version of themselves. And that’s a big change. And so, while the ideals have always been there and they’ve always been shifting, but they’ve, and they’ve always been shared in some ways. And back when we were younger, there was research that showed exposure to magazines was.
Associated with more negative feelings about your own body. And so we knew that exposure to those ideals was related, but now you’re getting exposed to so much more.
[00:15:16] Krista Boan: Oh my goodness. Yeah. I think that’s so fascinating. You pointed out it’s not people who are far away, it’s people who are immediate next to us, even sometimes our own family.
[00:15:24] Cara Bohon: Yeah, and I think about that too. You’ve got, obviously the social media that teens see is a little bit different on the social media than. Teens moms. See, but say more about that. Some of the moms on social media even there’s this, there’s curation of families, right? So, your point about Yeah, like family photos where you want the whole family photo to look just like this.
And with matching outfits and hair just right and hair just this, and it’s like the whole family is an image of perfection. And this even with per perpetuates into the mom culture of needing to be the perfect mom. I know we’re straying a little bit from the body image side, but just this idea of perfection that gets perpetuated and idealized and it goes all the way from how are you parenting to then what does your family look like?
[00:16:12] Krista Boan: I’ve done that, like I have a past of thinking through and I wrote a blog about it once, was just like thinking through. Okay, we’re going to Disney and so I need to pack like matching outfit. This is, okay. Here you go folks. But I literally would lay out everybody in our families. Outfits so that our pictures were what mattered most to me.
And my daughter walked in and she said, mom, what are you doing? And she was like, can I just be off that week? I think that shifted everything for me. I like, I almost went on social media completely cause I realized. That she didn’t feel the agency who’s performing for me and I, I don’t want my kids to perform.
So anyway, that’s maybe way too personal, but I’m curious just the way that, as I’m thinking about parents out there who are trying to build empathy for what their kids are going through, I think our hearts break because of our own history with the glamor shots that like nobody cared about after we took them or whatever.
Or maybe people were critical of them or whatever. Right. And that was hard enough. And then to feel, to go beyond that, to think that my kids actually are living in a world where that’s being done to them, whether they have a voice in it or not.
[00:17:28] Cara Bohon: Yeah, I think it’s a really great point. And I, I have had the same, I just recently had a fight over school photos.
My child was going to wear to school photos. I had an idea of what would be a good outfit choice and my child disagreed. Yes. And, but it’s his idea and honest and honestly, he won,
[00:17:46] Krista Boan: he wore a shark
[00:17:47] Cara Bohon: shirt. Yeah. In his school photo. And it’s fine. And honestly now I look back on it and I think that’s him. That’s, that was his favorite shirt. So that’s a great, it’s great. Do I think it made for the most picturesque picture? No, I don’t, but. It’s him and that in that, I need to really step back and think of the value of seeing a photo of my child that represents his personality as opposed to some idealized version of an image.
You know, obviously my intention is never to harm, obviously never to harm my child, and often I think we’re doing it for good and for good reasons. For good intentions. I can think back to times when I know. My mom will probably listen to this podcast cause she always likes to do listen to things I’m doing.
But I know my mom has made, had made comments growing up about something being a little tight or something, being whatever, and her intention was 100% positive. It was. She wanted me to not have any comments made about me. She wanted me to not have to struggle with my weight when I got older, and she wanted me to live a life where I would have a positive body image.
But in doing that by, by by saying, “oh, maybe you need to do this or maybe you need to do that,” it actually ends up reinforcing. The idea that you should fit the ideal. So there’s zero intent of harm, and yet it perpetuates that that ideal, like if you notice those things in yourself, oh my gosh, I’m, I’ve done that.
Wow. Like, don’t feel guilty about it. It makes sense. You were doing it. It wasn’t with bad intent. It was absolutely with good intent, and it can backfire and make it worse. And the other thing that’s related to that is the ways in which as parents talk about our own bodies and how much of an impact that has.
So again, back to your point about what we are posting of our families on social media and what we are choosing to share with the world on social media, our kids are seeing that too. And so if I’m not gonna post something of myself that is less than perfect, or if I’m posting things that are filtered, if I’m posting things, that’s gonna send maybe even a stronger message to my child the stranger or or the peers.
That’s maybe a question. Peers are a pretty big influence, but, but I think about, especially those of us, if your kids share your genetics and you are thinking negatively of yourself that you need filters, that you don’t like the way you look and your child looks in the mirror and they think, I kind of look like my mom.
So if my mom doesn’t like the way she looks, what does that say about me? Ugh.
[00:20:23] Krista Boan: That is powerful. I think it is really easy to blame the culture and all the other people who are creating these false images for our kids to live into without taking a look at them mirror and to recognize that we really ultimately are the most important voice in our kids’ lives.
Wow. That’s powerful, Cara. So, so what can we do? How do we do it differently? I’m like, okay, like I’m feeling a little bit like, hold my hand Kara then, and tell me like, how can I as a parent step in in a way that helps them feel. Positive about their body and that puts countermeasures in place against this tsunami is our favorite word, or the tsunami pressure that they’re feeling from every direction.
[00:21:07] Cara Bohon: Yeah. I honestly think that the screen sanity steps. For technology actually works really well here. Yeah, because I love that. The first part of the screen, sanity tips are
[00:21:20] Krista Boan: like, start with yourself, right? Yeah. That’s what we’re talking about. Yeah. And
[00:21:22] Cara Bohon: so if you’re thinking about how can I be a good influence?
How can I show that I am part of this and I’m affected too, and I wanna, and I believe in this as a value, then start with yourself. And so if you notice that you are only sharing filtered photos or you’re only sharing. Picture if you’re in a certain stance Yeah. And turned a certain way. Yeah. And sucking your tummy in and all those sorts of things, like start with yourself and start to share the unfiltered photos.
Start to share your true. Appearance and your true self. We have in a body image program that we do, we talk about something we call body activism, which is to not activism as a go out and protest, but like activism in terms of taking some public stance of body acceptance of saying that we should honor all bodies and all bodies are good bodies, all sizes.
Of bodies are good. And one of the things that I think about, which is also both a personal challenge as well as a public challenge, is I have had multiple pregnancies. My stomach will never look the way that it used to look. And I think that’s when the time point when, and I had this urge to the, to switch to the one piece bathing suit at the pool, and I thought to myself, okay, what if I didn’t and what if I let my imperfect.
Postpartum mom, belly, just B, and started really challenging myself to actually wear the two piece to the pool. And it’s uncomfortable, you know, just recently actually, there was a little girl at the pool who asked me if I was pregnant and I said, “Nope, bodies sometimes look like this, even if they don’t have a baby in them.”
And I thought I just got to be for her, an image in her mind. Of someone’s body that is real. And I thought about this actually as an activism, which is to say, what message do I, am I sending if I’m always hiding, versus what message am I sending if I’m putting my real self out there for this little girl to see that this is what bodies look like?
And that’s when I start to think about some of the things that we can actually do as parents is start to be what we would love for them to be able to be.
[00:23:40] Krista Boan: I love that so much. Do you have any experience with the new app? Be real.
[00:23:48] Cara Bohon: I don’t have personal experience. I have the, the body image program manager at a Quip actually is a Gen Zer, if you will. And so she is, she’s. She’s let me in on the secret of Be real, but I have not experienced it firsthand.
[00:24:01] Krista Boan: Well, I haven’t either, but we have a smartphone now. We’ve done the whole ride practice drive and now we are at the part of the learner’s permit where she needs to start with some social media app with me in the passenger seat.
So I’m coaching her and Be real, feels like it feels a little bit like it’s trying to put a counter pressure against the opportunity to. Edit and overed yourself into the person that you wanna be, and to give you that opportunity to demonstrate a little bit of that activism of just, Hey, I’m in the moment and I am not gonna fuss with myself, and I’ve got this amount of time and I’m just gonna take a picture of myself as is.
So I’m looking forward to jumping into that with her because I think. It, it starts off in a better place than the heightened pressure of beautiful photo editing software that’s found in Instagram.
[00:24:48] Cara Bohon: Yeah, yeah, I absolutely agree. I less curation and more authenticity. The other thing that pops into mind is really thinking about body image on a spectrum.
So, We all starting out this podcast we were talking about, everyone has bodies and even though it might not, you might not really be aware as much about your body image. Everyone has a body image, everyone has some feelings about their bodies, so they could be negative feelings about your body and you could have negative body image.
And that’s usually what we’re talking about, especially in the context of my work with eating disorders. But when you want to get away from negative body, imagine start to feel better about your body image. It’s not. Two sides of the coin. It’s not negative or positive. There’s also body acceptance and body neutrality.
And you know what? You might not be ready to love your body, and that’s okay. And you might not love every part of your body, and there might still be things that you’re like, eh, not loving it. But yeah, can you at least be neutral about your body? Can you at least view it as a vessel? Holds your mind and your personality and allows you to exist in this world and find joy in existence.
And if you can get there and see your body as a neutral. Part of a view that allows you to be, you’re at least shifting in one step. And so you can take that one step and then if you can start to dip a toe into body positivity and actually start to think about like the things that you love. We do a, we do an exercise called the mirror exercise where we have people look in the mirror at themselves wearing as little clothing as possible and enlist 15 positive qualities about themselves and that association where you’re looking at your body as it is in reality.
And what at the same time, thinking about positive things about yourself, you start to associate what your body looks like with those positive feelings, and slowly over time you get to dip that toe into positive feelings for yourself and your body. I
[00:26:48] Krista Boan: love that. That’s so good. So how, as parents, can we help bring our kids. What’s their language? Is it just sharing with them about the spectrum that we tend to hang out here? Or how can we teach our kids or call our kids into that baby step towards neutrality and then
[00:27:03] Cara Bohon: dipping your toe in? Yeah. I think step one is observing where your child is. I know again, at Screen Sanity you all recommend ensuring that as your kids are starting to be involved in social media, that you know what they’re doing and that you can see what they’re posting.
Yeah. And see what they’re seeing. And I echo that and say, you start to make observations and if you notice that they are posting filtered photos and you notice that they are viewing filtered photos, if you notice that their social media feed is filled with maybe some.
Idealized imagery, start to have those open conversations, but in, but act with curiosity. Ask them questions. What do you think about this? What does that, how does that make you feel? And I love in the Screen Sanity, um, social media playbook there’s this whole conversation about, about values, but also about what is your goal with social media and what do you want o feel from it?
What do you want to put, what do you wanna put out there? And I think you can connect some of those conversations with body image conversations specifically, which is that, how do those filtered images make you feel? How does viewing those accounts and those images that those that those accounts are putting out there, how’s that making you feel about yourself?
And if the answer is not that great, then what if we stopped following them? What if you stopped looking at those? And who could you follow instead that might be more real and more, more positive? Yeah. What other,
[00:28:23] Krista Boan: what other kind of warning signs should we look out for as our kids are navigating the digital world or specifically the social media world, that things aren’t going well for them?
[00:28:34] Cara Bohon: I think there is a lot of withdrawal, and if you’re feeling particularly negative, you start to avoid things because of those body image concerns and it. At an extreme when people, especially when they really start to engage in eating disorder behaviors, we see a lot of kind of baggy clothes to hide bodies, uh, so that their body’s not seen or not visualized, um, turning down, you know, trips to the pool or the beach or things like that, where again, they might have to show their body more.
And so those are some of those. And this is veering into signs of an eating disorder versus signs of negative body image. Those kinds of things start to go hand in hand. And, and so I would say avoidance of certain things, avoidance of meals for sure, but also, you know, spending a lot of time doing those, those comparisons.
So, you know, increases in time on social media following accounts that are particularly ideal appearance, ideal focused and those sorts of things. And start to almost becoming, be becoming a bit obsessed about those things. Spending a lot of time in the bathroom, a lot of time, changing your clothes multiple times.
You can’t get the outfit that looks just right. Those are some kinds of things that I would definitely wanna start having those curious conversations. And
[00:29:43] Krista Boan: does that mean, is that the point where we go to a quip and we start poking around or tell us what you guys do, tell us your
[00:29:50] Cara Bohon: approach. So at Quip, we are an eating disorder treatment company.
We provide telehealth based team treatment. So I think one of the unique factors of Quip is a couple of things. So we treat adolescents and young adults actually all the way from ages six to 24. And we focus on that age range because we involve the family in our treatment. And so family-based treatment is a treatment for eating disorders that has the highest remission rates of any treatment for eating disorders that’s been tested so far.
And we take that at its core. We know that eating disorders, as I mentioned earlier, are brain-based, and so it’s a really hard to fight them by yourself without support. And so that’s why we involve. In, in the care. And then we also provide a team to support the whole family as well. And it involves therapy with the whole family.
It involves a dietician to support the parents in ensuring that adequate food is eaten. We have a medical provider eating disorders. Have pretty drastic medical consequences if they go untreated. And so we have a medical provider to make sure that all of heart rate and vital signs and lab values and everything are not messed up by the eating disorder.
And then another really exciting thing that we have at a quip that is unique to us is me, is our mentorship program. And so every patient and family at. Has a peer mentor who is someone with lived experience of recovering from an eating disorder and also has a family mentor for the family who’s someone who has lived experience of supporting a loved one through recovery from an eating disorder.
And I think the really amazing and wonderful thing. With that is that sensation that you’re not alone. And I think a lot of people eating disorders are incredibly overwhelming. They can take over the entire family’s lives and having that comradery of someone who’s been there and done that and gotten through can be really powerful in the context of the, that our treatment where we’re focused on helping the family help the person with the eating disorder.
We also offer some group support and one of the groups that we do, which connects to our conversation today is our body image program, which is a very action oriented now we do some of the exercises that I mentioned, body activism, taking charge and doing something public to counteract those appearance ideals in the world.
That mirror exercise that I mentioned, we have a few different exercises that take take a very active approach in, in trying to combat those appearance ideals that we’re bombarded with in our. Wow,
[00:32:13] Krista Boan: I, we are huge fans of what you do. So many overlapping threads just from empowering the family as the core unit of change and just starting with empathy.
We’re just so thankful and I just, I just wanna just pause and note that you guys are leveraging. Technology in the most beautiful way. And I think as parents, what’s so tempting when we hear all of this information about the pressures that the digital world is putting on our kids, it’s so important that we also always say that technology is a gift.
And look at what you guys are able to do through this telehealth and coupling it with genuine human connection. And may we as parents be speaking that as, And to our kids as all of the negative things about technology, because the truth is that your program is amazing because it’s accessible, it’s available everywhere, and we couldn’t do that without technology.
I just think it’s a beautiful kind of marriage of. Like the way that technology can extend and enhance our humanity without just replacing it or minimizing it. So well done and we’re grateful for your work.
[00:33:17] Cara Bohon: You so much. I, I agree. And I think it, it’s one of the things actually thinking about the positives of technology that I also wanna be sure to reflect back on when I, we think about the conversations that you can have with your kids around their social media too, is to say that although there’s a lot of social media accounts on TikTok and Instagram and others where there’s this filtered.
Appearance, ideal perpetuation. There’s also a lot of great accounts out there spread. Positive, real, genuine imagery as well that can be incredibly empowering and supporting. And so it’s the same kind of thing. It’s like that’s why the conversation is so important as opposed to just setting boundaries and saying, oh, nope, you’re off.
Social media is to say, let’s have a conversation around who you want to follow and what you want to be seeing, because there’s actually some really great stuff out there too.
[00:34:07] Krista Boan: Yeah, I love that. And a tip from our, Amy, our one of our team members was just that she’s actually created, So she’s taken her Instagram account and she’s created actually two Instagram accounts.
And so in that, in, in Kind, she has a bo kind of a body positivity account where she literally just fills it in with only, with people who are doing that good work of sharing positive things, not just about bodies, but about the world in real authentic, hopeful messages. And so that when she’s intentional is the thing, is that.
She recognizes that social media does have a ton of that algorithm driven pressure to go negative. And so her countermeasure then is to say, I’m actually intentionally gonna create a space where I get to have the choice about who I’m going to follow, because I know that it’s important. And so I love all those tips.
Oh. Okay, so hey, could you just give us the landscape? You’re somebody like me and you don’t really know a whole lot, like maybe you’re a little bit nervous that the digital world could accidentally create some pressure for your child’s body image. Could you just help fill in the landscape for parents about what are the trends right now?
What is happening with our kids that is uniquely different to their generation compared to the glamor shots of our youth
[00:35:26] Cara Bohon: in general eating disorders? We know to be at the extreme, and a consequence of negative body image have been on the rise, especially since the pandemic. So we’ve seen a 70% increase in eating disorders over the course of the pandemic.
We know that the pandemic also coincided with a lot of increase in screen time for our teens. An increase in their only opportunity for social connection was to be a social media, especially early on in the pandemic. And so this increased exposure to these filtered images, these idealized image, And we saw corresponding increase in eating disorders over that time.
You know, 90% of women had body image concerns. And when we think about that in the context of teenagers with their growing bodies and this exposure to social media and all these things, that just creates the perfect storm for these problems to, to develop. There was also a recent study by Deloitte Access Economics and Partnership with Harvard, where they looked at actually, Literal costs of body image.
Yeah. And body dissatisfaction. So appearance based discrimination and body dissatisfaction. And found 84 billion in financial costs and 221 billion in lost wellbeing as a consequence of body dissatisfaction, uh, in our society and thinking about dollars that are lost by people spending time on themselves, on their bodies that they could be doing other things.
People not pursu. Certain activities or certain opportunities because of how they look or fears of how they look. Appearance based discrimination results in people not getting jobs and people being judged for their looks in ways that they don’t get promoted or things like this. And so there’s real genuine costs in addition to just our overall mental health and wellbeing.
There’s actually real financial costs here too.
[00:37:12] Krista Boan: That’s fascinating. Okay, let me do this. Would you be up for a little rapid fire question we like to close out with? Sure. Okay. I’m gonna ask you five just quick questions about technology. What is your favorite piece of old school technology, the kind that you have to explain to your kids what
[00:37:29] Cara Bohon: it is?
Um, well, I don’t have it anymore, but the one that I like to, to, to talk about is the Walkman and the idea that I had. Really big, bulky thing that I carried around with headphones in order to listen to music and that you had to put a cassette tape in and listen to the whole thing, or fast forward and rewind if you wanted to listen to a particular song and end up having to listen to some other song in the way to, and to fast forward to exactly the song that you wanted.
Totally. It’s okay, and yet it was. Life changing to be able to do that. And I remember riding to the riding to school on the school bus and having my Walkman on, and it was like, I was so cool. Oh yeah. And yet, yeah, when you look back, I’m like, wow. Yeah,
[00:38:10] Krista Boan: totally. Okay. Fill in the blank. Being a parent in 2022 is
[00:38:15] Cara Bohon: like being a superhero.
Yeah. I think it requires superhero strength to manage all of the things.
[00:38:22] Krista Boan: Totally. How about your
[00:38:23] Cara Bohon: favorite app?
This is a tough one. Honestly, I think it’s probably Spotify because I’m a very big music and probably, you know, links back to my, the Walkman being my favorite piece of technology, but I’m really into music, and so Spotify is probably the most used app on my phone. Yeah.
[00:38:43] Krista Boan: Hey, Kara, can I have you say it one more time because I, for some reason your audio went a little bit soft, so I’m gonna try it one more time.
Okay. What about your favorite app?
[00:38:52] Cara Bohon: Oh, yeah. I would say Spotify because, Really into music. Hence my favorite technology being the Walkman, and so it’s the probably the most used app on my phone. I’m on it all the time. I love Spotify.
[00:39:05] Krista Boan: Favorite trick you use to keep your tech in check?
[00:39:08] Cara Bohon: Forget where my phone is.
It’s the best thing that I do. I have a really hard time. I have a really hard time if it’s there, not checking it, but if I like leave it in another room of the house, it’s actually the very best thing for me. Yeah,
[00:39:21] Krista Boan: totally. Also something that is pretty easy to do. That’s funny. So the internet breaks down for 24 hours.
What do you love to do to unplug?
[00:39:34] Cara Bohon: Real books, which I never do, and I have a stack of them. I have a stack of unread books that I get so excited about reading and then they just sit there. Yeah. And it, it actually sounds dreamy to have the internet go out and be able to do that. I
[00:39:48] Krista Boan: know. Same. Totally. Oh man.
I’m just so grateful for Kara and her wisdom. You know, at start, we are so passionate about trying to create resources that not only help us start with ourselves when it comes to body image. But also helping us bring change to our broader community about the ways that the digital world are impacting our lives.
We really believe that raising healthy and happy kids in today’s digital world is hard to do, but it’s nearly impossible to do it alone. So if you’re listening and you’re ready to start those conversations, visit email@example.com and grab yourself a copy of our social media playbook, which you can use to spark a conversation about body image with your kiddo.
Or, you know, maybe grab our screen Sanity group. And talk to other parents about what they’re experiencing with their kids who are, um, facing these issues. Until next time, I just wanna encourage you to stay in the game when it comes to conversations about body image with your kids. Cuz screens are small, but life is big.
So keep looking up.