Bonjour sweet peas,
I have been doing a wee bit of thought processing of late, on the topic of eating disorders; more specifically though how they are portrayed within the media and how pop culture seems to tell a great deal of half truths about what living with an eating disorder is actually like?
In a great deal of media portrayals of eating disorders there seems to be 2 main stops on the eating disorder train:
1) middle class, white woman; developed eating disorder in relation to some form of child hood trauma or growing up in an environment that is either a) destructive or b) difficult parents
2) middle class, white woman, after spiralling forever downwards into a dark oblivion, seeks treatment, is usually admitted to a residential facility and ends in eventual commitment to self love and recovery.
Which is fine, if you fit in that box… however a great deal of people don’t.
Why is this a problem? Well, with every eating disorder story that we hear that fits into the aforementioned we use them as examples to hold up our own disorders to; to judge what/who is “sick” and what is not. The dangerous thing? Trusting these narratives as representations of “real disorders” and that experiences that fall outside them do not count.
So here are a few things that I wish people knew about Eating Disorders:
1) They do no discriminate – they are not specific to middle class white women. Religion, age, ability, education, gender, employment, sex, family dynamic; none of these matter.
2) There are more than 2 eating disorders (** Really Important**) There are more to eating disorders than just anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa; there are sub categories, binging, etc; all are important and all deserve attention.
3) They are a mental health issue, with physical side effects; they are not really about food, they are so much more complicated than that.
4) Eating Disorders do not determine body type; the assumption that everyone with an eating disorder looks a certain way only leads to people who need help not getting it.
5) On that note; Your Body type doesn’t determine having an eating disorder; the casual “oh you look so Ana today” or that “over weight” people have an unhealthy relationship with food is damaging.
6) Eating Disorders are not a choice; giving advice like “just eat, its easy” is not helpful. You can’t tell someone with anxiety to “just relax”, it isn’t a matter of choice.
7) THEY ARE **NOT DIETS**; why this even has to be said is just.. ugh.
8) Recovery is hard, long and sometimes will take a lifetime to accomplish; It is possible, but it is a battle that you need to be strong and deliberate about.
9) Recovery, like the disorder, is not the same for everyone; there is no perfect recovery like media portrays, and relapses are not failures.
10) Eating disorders matter; raising consciousness is so important. If the current representations of eating disorders that are portrayed by media or the psychology field itself do not represent your struggle, you are allowed to be angry but make sure that your experience is heard. Your voice is valid, and it matters.