Body Positive Cornell is hosting Mimi Cole, a therapist known for her Instagram page The Lovely Becoming, in a Tuesday evening event where she will speak on self-care and self-compassion and offer wellness tools for the upcoming exam season.
Mimi Cole, MS, LPC-MHSP (temp) #6213 is currently an associate clinical mental health counselor at a private group practice in Franklin, Tennessee, where she works with individuals with complex and childhood trauma, religious trauma and deconstruction and BIPOC and LGBTQ+ folks.
Cole said her own experience with therapy attracted her to the field — along with wanting to fill in the gaps for people with marginalized identities that she noticed.
“I saw a lot of gaps for people with marginalized identities, people who didn’t fit the very narrow stereotype for eating disorders. And with OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder], there was a lot of misinformation and miseducation,” Cole said. “Also, more recently, being reflective upon my experiences, [understanding] what was missing and how to make those [experiences] better [for others].”
Cole began her Instagram page in February 2019 after seeing dietitians on the social media platform discuss topics such as intuitive eating and weight inclusive care. She noticed a lack of conversation surrounding the intersectionality of having multiple conditions.
“I didn’t see an intersection between the OCD piece and eating disorders. And I also didn’t see a lot of conversation around this atypical label,” Cole said. “I love making connections, so it was really fun for me to connect with people and share more about my experiences and people started to resonate with my words, which was really nice.”
Since then, Cole’s Instagram page has expanded into a mental health podcast and blog. Cole was also recently featured in the New York Times, where she spoke openly about her experiences with atypical anorexia — a type of anorexia when a patient has all the symptoms of anorexia but is not underweight.
Cole has also been featured in HuffPost and has collaborated with various organizations including the National Alliance for Eating Disorders, the International OCD Foundation, Eating Recovery Center and the National Eating Disorder Association.
In her talk at Cornell, Cole will also speak about her upcoming workbook titled “A Body Image Workbook for Every Body: Your Guide for Deconstructing Diet Culture and Learning How To Respect, Nourish, and Care for Your Whole Self.” A project now a year and a half in the making, Cole said the idea began when a friend who was working with teens with eating disorders reached out to make an inclusive workbook to give to clients.
Cole said that the current workbook typically used for clients is outdated and often has photos of underweight, appearingly cisgender, white and thin women on the cover.
“We want this to be really inclusive,” Cole said. “And we also wanted to gather, sometimes we had a lot of resources that we saw on Instagram, in different posts and different pages that people followed. We wanted something cohesive to explain some of those underlying concepts.”
Cole hopes to provide nuance to the complexities of mental health and eating disorders and to deconstruct misconceptions about the conditions through her work.
Specifically, Cole hopes to challenge certain platitudes that are common in the world of body positivity, such as phrases like ‘the number on the scale means nothing,’ which Cole said spreads a positive message of making weight meaningless, but neglects to acknowledge the importance society places on numbers.
“We added a lot of nuance [in the book], which I’m really grateful for because a lot of times we’d say platitudes that are very typical in [the] body image world,” Cole said. “Numbers give us access to a feeling of security: If we have enough money to pay for housing and food, numbers are tied to grades and morality, numbers are tied to if you’re in a certain size body, it’s going to be easier or harder to access quality medical care.”
At her talk on Tuesday evening, Cole said she hopes to discuss the nuance behind self-care with students.
“[The event] was a really cool opportunity for me to dig into what’s underneath that [idea of self-care],” Cole said. “Talking about financial access to afford self care, breaking down self care as daily routines that help our future selves, as opposed to paying money to get something, or what does it mean when we say take care of yourself all the time.”