Does Toxic Positivity Harm Eating Disorder Recovery?

April 26, 2022 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

I used to subscribe to the toxic positivity message. I wanted to believe that if I could maintain a persona of relentless confidence, enthusiasm, resilience, and optimism, then I would eventually outdistance the pain of my eating disorder.

I frantically ignored the heartache in my chest. I tried to bury the fear and shame under heaps of motivational social media posts. I screwed on convincing smiles to reassure my friends I was a strong, unbreakable force they could count on. I labeled myself an "inspirational overcomer"—anything less felt weak. I refused to let uncomfortable or vulnerable emotions find their way to the surface. Only now can I see how problematic that mindset was. 

This positive shield became my defense from the choices, behaviors, traumas, and hurts I was much too scared to face. But it offered no protection from my wounds or healing from my patterns. That's because toxic positivity harms eating disorder recovery.  

Why Toxic Positivity Is Harmful to Eating Disorder Recovery

In recent years, the dark side of positivity culture has entered social consciousness. People have begun to reject the expectation that all circumstances be filtered through an adamantly, unwaveringly, optimistic lens. I've noticed these efforts to transition away from a toxic positivity message, and I'd love to see the paradigm shift in a healthier direction. 

This awareness of toxic positivity as dangerous to mental health—not to mention an unrealistic yardstick to measure the depth and range of actual human emotions—is an excellent place to start. However, I want to specifically frame this conversation around how toxic positivity harms eating disorder recovery, which I'll unpack in the video below.

A Healthier Alternative to Toxic Positivity in Eating Disorder Recovery

How does the toxic positivity message rear its head in your own eating disorder recovery? What are some coping mechanisms you reach for in order to feel and process emotions in a healthier, more constructive way? Please share in the comment section.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2022, April 26). Does Toxic Positivity Harm Eating Disorder Recovery?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Connect with Mary-Elizabeth on Facebook, Instagram and her personal blog.

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