We recently caught up with the Butterfly Foundation team, to find out a bit more about what they do and their thoughts and advice on loving yourself. As part of our #EteLove campaign we are donating 100% of profits from our Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful T-shirts to ProjectHEAL and the Butterfly Foundation. 

Why and when was the Butterfly foundation formed?

The Butterfly Foundation was founded in 2002 by Claire Middleton (OAM) whose two daughters experienced eating disorders.  She was shocked by the lack of services, support and effective treatment as well as the general lack of awareness and understanding within communities. Butterfly started as a group of volunteers around a kitchen table and has now grown to a National organisation with offices in Melbourne and Sydney.

butterfly foundation christine

What is your mission with The Butterfly Foundation? 

Butterfly’s mission is to bring about change to the culture, policy and practice in the prevention, treatment and support for all those affected by eating disorders and negative body image. We do this through several core areas; Support Services, Prevention and Education Services, Advocacy and Awareness, Treatment Service Development, Research Funding and Fundraising. One of our key aims is to breakdown stigma, encourage help seeking and ensure that sufferers receive effective treatment and support as early as possible.

Key ways you help with positive body image

Not every person who experiences body dissatisfaction will develop a clinical eating disorder, however research continues to report that when a person experiences body dissatisfaction their risk of engaging in unhealthy behaviours, particularly with food and exercise increases. Butterfly has offered prevention focused education services around Australia since 2006.  We offer educational programs and materials which are evidence based, age and developmentally appropriate, adhere to safe practice guidelines and aim to positively impact attitudes, language, behaviours and culture within peer groups, schools, communities and homes.  We offer workshops to young people (Year 3 – Year 12) and in tertiary education, peer led programs, professional trainings and seminars for parents. 

In addition to this, we run advocacy campaigns throughout the year to support our community and encourage body acceptance.

What makes The Butterfly Foundation unique?

Butterfly is the only National charity supporting all Australians with eating disorders or body image concerns – those experiencing an eating disorder, family, friends and professionals. Many people know us because of our National Helpline, but they are not aware of the scope of services we offer – including treatment services, recovery support groups, education, research and lived experience consultation.

What does body positivity mean to the Butterfly Foundation?

Body image is about feelings not about how we actually look. It is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the thoughts and feelings that result from that perception. These feelings can be positive, negative or both and are influenced by individual and environmental factors. It’s about feeling comfortable in your own body – accepting, appreciating and respecting it. 

What are your top tips for others to love themselves?

We all have the power to change the way we see, feel and think about our bodies. There is no right or wrong when it comes to weight, shape size and appearance. Top tips include:

  • Focusing on the positives – your skills, talents and personal qualities
  • Talk to yourself like you would a best friend – quit the negative self-talk and say positive things to yourself every day
  • Focusing on your body’s functionality and what it enables you to do rather than how it looks
  • Setting health related goals and focus on physical and mental wellbeing rather than weight less goals
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others in a negative way. Appreciate qualities in yourself and others and celebrate the fact we are all unique and different
  • Remember the images we see on a daily basis are manipulated and only reflect a small minority of the population.

Tips for helping a friend who may suffer from a negative self-image?

It can be difficult to know what to say to someone struggling with poor body image.  As with most things it is better to listen and let them know that you are there for them rather than try and ‘fix’ the issue. It’s certainly not a good idea to talk negatively about your own or others bodies in an effort to make them feel better. Remind the person of all the things you love about them which probably have very little if anything to do with the way they look.  Be patient and reassure them that many people struggle with these issues and that they are able to change the way they feel. If you need advice about body image or eating disorders for yourself or a friend, you can contact our National Helpline – 1800 33 4673

Tips for staying positive and safe on social media?

At times social media can make us feel less than good about ourselves.  It’s important to be aware of what you see and how it makes you feel. If you find something triggering block, unfriend or stop following and seek to follow pages and people that make you feel empowered. You don’t have to stop using social media, but you can take greater control.

For example, taking more frequent breaks and connecting with people in real life.  It’s important to remember it’s what’s on the inside that counts and that what you see on social media is not always real. Your worth is not defined by the amount of likes you receive!

What does the future hold for The Butterfly Foundation?

We have a few things coming up to keep an eye out for:

  • Expansion of our National Helpline hours, which from March will be open 7 days a week, 8am – 12am. This is fantastic news in broadening our support to the community after hours.
  • Our annual awareness and advocacy campaign MAYDAYS, will be here before we know it. This takes place nationally throughout the month of MAY to raise vital funds for the prevention and treatment of eating disorders in Australia.
  • Males & Body Image research is being undertaken by our Prevention Services team with the hope to build an educational program to better support males and they body image

How can people support the work of Butterfly?

See more from Project Heal on their Instagram @thebutterflyfoundation and the Butterfly Foundation Website.

For more #EteLove stories read our Q&A with Kristina, Founder of ProjectHEAL

To help support the Positive Body Image movement, we are donating 100% of Profits from the sale of our Be Your Own Kind Of Beautiful T-Shirts to the Butterfly Foundation and ProjectHEAL.

March 01, 2018 — Jessica Williamson
Tags: #EteLove q&a