Perfectionism and eating disorders

Hands up who is perfect? ………………………………………………………………………………..Waiting.

Yeeeh, it’s a loaded question? I mean, how do we know what constitutes ‘perfect’. Who dictates this? How do we know when we’ve reached it?

Are we supposed to be feeling ‘perfect’ just the way we are, or is ‘perfect’ an unrealistic ideal we’ll never reach?

After pondering that question… and then pondering it again….I still couldn’t come up with the perfect answer!!!!

I did find a quote this week from Julia Cameron that said, “perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again”. And yet, in my quest to be recovered, my loved ones were always telling me…”you’re perfect just the way you are”. Well, tell THAT to Julia! This is so confusing!

I am starting to understand that there really is a big difference between the healthy and helpful pursuit of excellence and the unhealthy and unhelpful striving for perfection. But when does one morph into the other and how will I know the difference?

Is it that the high standard or goal I’ve set is unrealistic? And how will I know if or when it is has become unrealistic? Tennis great Serena Williams considers herself a perfectionist. Has it done her any harm? When did she understand that her seemingly unrealistic goal could become reality? What’s more, has she now reached her goal? Is being ‘great’ good enough for her? When will she be ‘perfect’ in her eyes?

Eating disorders thrive on the obsession with perfection. It appears to be fertile ground for an ED to flourish in. So, perhaps when we start to chip away at our view of perfection, we may start to see our choices, behaviours and fears in a whole new light. It was comforting to find that a lot of famous people didn’t believe in ‘perfection’… and that they’ve done ok in life! They aimed high. They just didn’t aim for ‘perfect’ or let it get in their way.

Is ‘perfection’ getting in YOUR way?

I’ll finish with some quotes from some of those famous folk I spoke of, and wish you all a (redefined) perfect month ahead….


“Perfection has one grave defect: it is apt to be dull.” W. Somerset Maugham


“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.” Margaret Atwood

“I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence I can reach for; perfection is God’s business.” Michael J. Fox

“Imperfection is perfection”. Flume