Archive for November 29, 2016

A Call for Artwork!

Art and Eating Disorders – Building Community Awareness 2017

The Emily Program Foundation is calling to you for your artwork inspired by body image, eating disorders or related experiences. We are excited to host this upcoming exhibition at The Southern Theater in partnership with Altered Esthetics to build awareness and education around eating disorders in our community. The exhibition will be on display February 3rd – 26th, 2017. 

Dance of Freedom - Art Exhibition 2014

Dance of Freedom – Art Exhibition 2014

If you have ever created artwork inspired by eating disorder recovery, please submit your work to this show! Themes include, but are not limited to, eating disorders, body image, and recovery.

Don’t wait to take part in this show; space is limited. Submissions are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis. Art pieces must be framed and equipped with a wire hanger upon submission. Artwork will be displayed anonymously (unless otherwise requested).




For more information on this exhibit, please see our events page.

Please include a photo of your piece and submit your artwork with the submission form to Emily Monson no later than January 2nd, 2017.

Contact Emily or call 651-379-6122 with questions and to obtain a submission form.

I am not a “Bikini Body”

Submitted by: Angela Haugen

My family and I joined a gym recently.

It is the first time since having my daughter that we have belonged to any fitness facility and it is as much for the child care as it is for the equipment. Sometimes you just need the break, and in Minnesota, you often need that break free of weather constraints.

I was excited to be back at a gym. I’ve always thrived in a situation where I’m paying and therefore accountable to attend, at some level or another (my thriftiness being the highest, probably!). But the truth is that they can be pitfalls for me as well.

My first week, I decided to get re-acclimated to the equipment and my own abilities. What do I like, what do I hate – what has changed and what is still the same? I felt alive running the track and lifting again. And the sauna: I survive Minnesota winters because of the word ‘sauna’. I was thrilled to be back, until…

“Keep going. Keep pushing. We need to work our way into that bikini body. You’ll never get there without effort!”

Now, a week in I decided to try my first cycling class. Historically this has been my favorite fitness outlet. A good sweat, in the dark, at my own pace and speed, with music thumping and everyone in their own zone. Be still my introverted heart!

All was going fine until the new instructor had me grab weights before heading in – she guided me on what to get, but I thought better of her suggestion knowing how new to working out I was again and that I have a history of bad neck and back pain. I opted for lower weights and went about my business – after all, what I love about spinning is the freedom to do and move at the pace and speed that is best for you THAT day. She gave me a disapproving look.

Class started. I adjusted my tension. Music pumping. Feet pedaling. Ahhhhhh…

And then she says these words, as some sort of warped way of inspiring our toughest effort:

“We need to work our way into that bikini body.”

Halt. Stop. What the what?!?!

I’m fairly certain THAT was an awkward moment for the 4 men in the class.

And for me.

I reject it.

And, I’m sorry, I just don’t buy that we aren’t able to be beyond this yet. So I’m going to rant:

Bikini body goals are like 1000% 1992. Welcome to 2016, where the focus on health and total body wellness is where it’s at. Let’s chat.

I get it. Some people do need encouragement to push beyond their comfort zones to achieve further health benefits. Absolutely. But, instead of motivating by some obscure standard like “bikini body” (what is that by the way?!), let’s go for something a little more universally understood: healthy body.

Here’s the thing about that, it’s definable, measurable, and has depths that allow us to explore it individually beyond the superficial lie of physical appearance. Healthy includes being free of disease, being of sound mind, with every vital organ functioning properly. It does not include a specific weight, or look, or random cultural assessment of what “looks good”.

As someone who has been down the horrid cycle of an eating disorder this woman’s words hit the heart of all my weaknesses – only the thing is, I’m not vulnerable there anymore. I have a voice in that space. I hear it for what it is: a lie.

It’s a lie that I or any other woman need to be held to or motivated by or encouraged toward something so obnoxiously unrealistic.

I am not a bikini body.

I am a mom setting an example for my daughter that strength comes from hard work – sometimes its sweat and determination, and sometimes it’s just knowing when to rest. That brains are longer lasting and much more valuable than looks. That good character is what makes her appealing and what will change this world. That being herself in a world of imitators is the most profoundly brave thing she could do – and it definitely doesn’t have a thing to do with some number on the back of her pants.

I am raising a little boy that needs to know that women are more than their bodies. That they deserve respect and honor. That the standards that women are assessed by and encouraged to have in this culture are false images. And, that he plays a part in changing that dialogue.

I am a wife that loves my husband enough to make sure I’m around for the best years of our marriage. That I am physically able to do the things we dream of after the kids are gone – but also that I am free of the mental baggage that obsessing about a number on the scale induces so that I can enjoy our time together for what it is: fun and precious and all too short.

I’m a woman who takes care of a family and needs to be reminded that sometimes that best way to do that is to sacrifice fully for them and sometimes it’s to take care of myself. I need to be reminded that my worth in my family comes from the love I give to them – not my physical appearance. That I work out so that I have the energy to keep up with them for many years to come and not so that I can achieve some arbitrary weight limit, skin tone, or clothing size. That I am a whole person deserving of love because I am a whole person deserving of love.

I am a woman trying to focus on being healthy in my body and in my mind – and both are largely impacted by what I put into them.

I would never eat toxic food, and I choose to not absorb her toxic words.

I am NOT a “Bikini body”. I will NOT work out to become one.

I am a “healthy mind, body, and soul” body. I will work out in motivation to that.

Brain Food: You don’t have to accept the messages that are fed to you.

Submitted by Jessica Kaliher

Brain Food: You don’t have to accept the messages that are fed to you.

Target sells some really cool graphic tees (my KALE jersey style shirt is one of my favorites), but there was one a few years ago that was particularly un-cool, and I used to want it bad. I begged my mom to get it for me and she did-not knowing I had an obsession with exercise and did it for the wrong reasons.

The shirt said “Excuses don’t burn calories.” While the statement is technically true, I now find this message to be quite negative and it puts an unhealthy twist on exercise.

Wait, exercise can be unhealthy? You bet.

Physical activity should be fun and done out of love for your body, mind, and soul.

When I used to have a horrible body image, a bad relationship with food, and was addicted to exercising, I would have this message replaying in my head, and it was quotes like this that were my “motivation.” While I’m sure this message is harmless to some and was just meant to be a quirky, funny saying, it can send out the wrong idea.

I see how it could be motivating to some, but I will point out that working out isn’t everything. It shouldn’t take over your life. I challenge you to look deep within and ask yourself why you really choose to workout.

Are you doing it because you want to burn calories or because you love the way it makes you feel and how energizing and therapeutic it is? This quote made me feel like burning calories and looking slim is all I should be thinking about.

I believe this quote reinforces the idea that so many people follow: you need to work out to burn off the calories from the food you eat.

That is so wrong and couldn’t be further from the truth. You deserve to eat always! It doesn’t matter if you worked out or not.

You were put on this earth for more than just weight loss.

You should workout to feel good, release endorphins, challenge yourself, think more clearly, and to have fun. There are so many other benefits to exercise than the way it can alter your physical body.

Life is easier and more enjoyable when you are choosing to live from a place of love instead of fear.

This message has fear behind it. You shouldn’t work out because you fear gaining weight and holding onto those calories, but because you love and appreciate your body for all it can do.

By all means, keep exercising to stay healthy and feel good, but be aware of the kinds of things you say. Are you someone who eats a piece of chocolate cake and then immediately says or thinks “I have to go burn this off” or “Now I feel like crap because I didn’t work out today”?

This shirt is just a minor example of all the messages that are out there that could lead to negative mindsets in vulnerable minds. Everyone has probably been affected by the media in one way or another. Social media is not real life though, and you don’t have to listen to and believe the messages that are advertised everywhere we look.

I’m happy to say that I got rid of the shirt because of its negative reminder.

I now surround myself with positive and uplifting Instagram accounts, podcasts, blogs, and books that promote self-love, body positivity, individuality, true health, and love! I recommend you do the same; it makes a world of a difference.


Love the Real You: A Movement for Change

Submitted by Emily Adrian

You don’t often see the media preaching natural beauty, but there is a movement that is joining in the fight to change just that. Aerie, a lingerie label, launched a campaign back in 2014 called #AerieReal, encouraging everyone to love the “real you.” This campaign at its start, made a promise, a promise of unretouched ad campaigns. Most recently, a reinforcement of this campaign has been launched further embracing “body positivity” by gathering diverse women of all different shapes and sizes to “share their spark.”

They speak their mission on their website, expressing that,


#AerieReal is “not all about flaws or curves. It’s what’s beneath the skin. #AerieReal is about loving the real you. #AerieReal is about empowerment

In 2016, Aerie invited 40 girls to share their spark in hopes to empower others to do the same. These women were made up of Aerie designers, models, bloggers and social fans. Some of these women chosen had never been in a photo-shoot before but proudly posed showing comfortability in their skin. It was a positive example for the movement in encouraging and continuing the push for change.

So often we open our social media pages, or look at magazines, even online shopping websites that tell us how our bodies should look. It puts thoughts into young women’s heads that the way they are isn’t good enough. That because they aren’t like those in the magazines, or online that they aren’t pretty enough, or “healthy” enough. In reality, these images endorsed by ads, social media and magazines aren’t our reality at all. Even men feel the pressures of appearance from our media, and they too suffer. Most of what we see is edited, it’s made to look a certain way, to be an “ideal” that doesn’t exist in itself. It gives a false reality and in doing so can cause an unhealthy impact on physical and mental health.

#AerieReal is refreshing. It is a glimmer of hope in the right direction. It is a promise to show real bodies, real beauty, and real confidence through real women. It is empowering to those who never felt they would be accepted because they were different from what was on the media. This is a movement to redefine beautiful, to redefine confidence, and to understand that HEALTHY looks DIFFERENT on everyone.

Our media is everywhere. Imagine what a world it would be if it wasn’t impacted by an “ideal” but instead was accepting of all the beautiful bodies that walk this wonderful earth. Isn’t that a world you would rather live in? Embrace your beauty, embrace what healthy looks like on you. Be comfortable in your own skin, and own it. As stated in the video, “together we will learn to love our real selves and change the world.”


Your Body is More Than Meets the Eye

Submitted by: Jessica Kaliher

Your body is more than meets the eye

If you really think about it, you are not your body. Stripped down completely, you are just a being. An amazing, special, wonderful being. Without your body though, you would not be able to experience anything.

Think about some of the best moments you’ve had in your life. The ones that really stand out. I bet you can remember every detail and I bet it doesn’t even seem real because it was complete bliss. How did it smell, taste, look, and feel? You would not have even experienced those moments had you not had your trusty legs, arms, knees, lungs, etc.

Your body is a beautiful vessel that carries you through life.

jessica-kaliher-1My body has allowed me to do many amazing things. Some moments that stand out for me is when I was hiking this summer along a waterfall with my two best friends. The air was so clean and fresh. Whenever I am in nature I always feel grounded being surrounded by big trees and a breathtaking jessica-kaliher-2sunset.

Or when I went to my first music festival in downtown Chicago and danced all day and night to my favorite artists in the pouring rain, surrounded by amazing people that share the same taste in music.

Then there was the time I met and hugged one of my favorite singers in the airport, or when I was jumping on the trampoline at 1 am with my family and laughing so hard my stomach hurt, or when I visited my college roommate/soul sister this summer and we spent the whole day on the lake paddle boarding.

The list goes on and on. You see, all these experiences had nothing to do with how I looked, but how I was able to take in all those moments through my body and senses. I didn’t worry or care about how my legs, arms, and stomach looked because I knew that my strong legs were helping me hike beside the waterfall, my arms made me feel free as I waved them in the air at the festival, and that my stomach was warm and fluttery because of how happy I was in each of those moments.

I hope you view your body not just as an outward shell, but as the thing that also carries your senses and emotions so you can smell the crisp fall air, and feel joy and peace when riding your bike on a beautiful day. Most of all, I hope your body brings you to more wonderful places full of sunshine, good people, and memories that will last forever.