Typically when I tell someone I have an eating disorder, they either a. feel awkward b. assure me that I look healthy.
Nothing makes me roll my eyes more.
Can we quit the idea that eating disorders only look one sort of way?
I’ve been through intensive treatment multiple times and I gotta tell ya, I’ve seen every body shape and size in that building.
For so long, I denied the idea that anything I was doing was unhealthy. Sure I was overdosing on laxatives, throwing up, overdoing it at the gym- but I didn’t look super skinny so didn’t “earn” the title of having an eating disorder.
And that core belief, that since I don’t look sick I am fine, took away the last 8 years of my life.
As a society we need to wake up. Eating disorders do not have a body type. Similar to invisible chronic illnesses, eating disorders aren’t always visible, but they are always serious.
This standard of having to look a certain way to have an eating disorder is quite literally the most damaging part of it all. You’re quite literally telling me I’m not skinny enough to have an eating disorder.
My eating disorder uses this as fuel:
“See, I told you you’re not skinny. You’re not even trying- stop complaining, stop crying. Overdosing on laxatives and throwing up is only dangerous if it’s working- but it isn’t, you still don’t look skinny enough. Keep going.”
And just like that I’d get sucked in to the eating disorder voice. I’d start denying my pain, my struggles and my emotions. I tended to convince myself I was being dramatic, that my medical team was just trying to get more money from me and that I didn’t have a problem.
So year after year, I denied a problem. A big fucking problem.
Once I finally got over that idea, that even though I looked healthy I wasn’t, I started to realize just how much I had been suffering. How much I actually was putting my body , heart and soul through.
As I sat in therapy group after therapy group, woman of all shapes and sizes were sharing similar experiences.
Despite our sizes, we each felt the same pressure and loudness of the eating disorder voice.
Despite our sizes, we each experienced the intensity of urges and the guilt of giving in.
Despite our sizes, we each lost potential memories in an attempt to avoid and isolate.
Despite our sizes, we were each forced to put our lives on hold and attend another round of treatment.
Despite our sizes, we all feel we aren’t skinny enough to have any eating disorder.
So please, I beg you, can we please give up the idea that you have to look a certain way to have an eating disorder. And that includes the bullshit belief that you’re also “more sick” if you are skinnier- same idea, still wrong.
It is crucial that we accept this knowledge and take action– poor body confidence is becoming a norm amongst both genders, all ages, all shapes.
According to the Girls’ Attitudes Survey 2016, 40% of 7- to 10-year-olds sometimes felt ashamed or embarrassed about their bodies, that’s nearly half of our young girls!
We must be preventative, for those struggling with ED thoughts will fall deeper into a full blown eating disorder if we rule out this diagnosis because of their weight.