(TRIGGER WARNING – Eating disorder behaviours written about)
You’ve probably seen it: the glorified photographs of underweight celebrities and models; the tiny, fragile, delicate girls in movies with eating disorders (think Cassie from Skins), maybe you’ve read the overly simplified and massively invalidating Winter Girls. Anorexia is the “diet” everyone wants to be on. Well, maybe not everyone, but I’ve heard the offhand comments: “I wish I had just a touch of anorexia”or “I’d do anything to have a bit of anorexia for a couple of weeks!” Even bulimia, the less glamorised eating disorder gets a look in: “I tried bulimia but I just hate throwing up!”
Why yes, of course, you’re totally right! Eating disorders are SO glamorous.
When my eating disorder forced me to walk forty-five minutes home with a week’s worth of food shopping every week, I totally felt glamorous. When I had to pause every ten minutes because I felt like I was going to pass out, and when I damaged the nerves in my fingers from the tightness of the shopping bag handles, I totally felt glamorous. When I wet myself a little bit now and again because my body was eating away at my bladder to try and get energy, I felt more glamorous than anyone. When I vomited into the toilet and got splashback on my face, it was so glamorous: even more so when I popped the blood vessels around my eyes. When I drunkenly locked myself in my boyfriend’s bathroom and cut my all over my arms, legs, and stomach, it was as glamorous as anyone would want to be. It was also super glamorous when my eating disorder punished me by making me work out vigorously for two hours straight on a malnourished, weak, failing body, until I was at the point of collapse, and when I made myself throw up at a party and a friend heard the whole thing, and when I cried on the train because the man on the other side of the aisle was eating a sandwich and I so desperately wanted to feel “allowed” to have that; have anything. And when I had to run home from a restaurant after eating something with fats in because I immediately got diarrhoea. And also when I screamed at my partner for putting a dash of milk in our scrambled eggs, and smashing a glass and kicking him out of the house when he turned over my “notices” to myself reading “fat bitch” and “starve yourself” and wrote “you are beautiful” and “you are perfect” on the back of them instead. And even more so when all I genuinely, truly wanted was to be chained to a bed so that I could not access the kitchen and eat anything. When I couldn’t think straight and my relationship was ruined and my body was cannibalising itself and my personality had diminished to nothing so that I had no hobbies or interests bar losing weight – what could anyone wish for than a touch of what I had; a touch of what millions of people suffer with every day? Anorexia, bulimia, OSFED, ARFID, anorexia athletica, orthorexia…what more could anyone want but those restrictive eating disorders that destroy your life, take away your health, eliminate your personality, interfere with your ability to work, and wreck your relationships?
And just so you know, eating disorders don’t necessarily make you skinny. They make you sick, and they make you so miserable that you wish you would just die, and they make you more and more dead every minute, but sometimes you don’t even get to be skinny. And even when you are skinny, you’ll never know it. The skinnier you get the fatter you’ll feel. With every pound you lose, you’ll hate it with more and more passion that you’ve ever felt towards anything else, and that will only drive you to continue to lose more, in the hopes that it will make you feel better. But it never will.
So sure, go about wishing you had just a “touch” of what we have. You know that saying ‘be careful what you wish for’? It could not be more true than when it comes to this.
In addition to the idiotic notion that having an eating disorder would be worth it because you’d get skinny, having these incredibly ignorant opinions invalidates and undermines the severity of an eating disorder, thus eradicating the experiences of those suffering from them. Having those sorts of opinions makes our pain invisible, because you don’t understand that it exists.
So learn more about eating disorders, because you know someone with one. You might not think you do, but you do, trust me. Someone in your life is struggling. Don’t let their experiences be invisible to you.
This is so spot-on. If i had a penny for every person who’s said to me, “i could do with a bit of anorexia myself.” It makes me want to bash my head against the wall in frustration.
and the comments of “it’s better than being/at least you aren’t overweight”
UMMMMM no, actually. that is scientifically just NO
I hate it when people say stuff like that. Much like when people would say it’s good that I compulsively exercise, have OCD so am rigid, and orderly or whatever. It really pissed me off. I realized why at some point. It’s because that’s like me telling them then, “Oh it’s good you’re lazy! Because you know how to relax!” It’s just…No. Balance. Balance people. And not that skewed fake balance…real physical, psychological peace of mind…
This is the best and most accurate thing I’ve read in a long time. It’s like it came straight from my brain but I couldn’t formulate the words.
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I hate it when people tell me, or seem to imply that it is something I am choosing to do. Oh yes, like I want to be tortured like this and agonizing over food…ahuh, right… Well the ED wants me to, *I* don’t. Man, even now it’s like the ED is wanting to smack me over the head for saying that. Yet I recall when I was at a camp and everyone was eating so freely, they had lunch, and then they were selling ice cream. Almost everyone else bought ice cream and were laughing, happy and enjoying it. I was on the verge of passing out from being so weak, I couldn’t think, and was having trouble breathing. I wanted to yell at all of those people while I cried on the inside, thinking “Do you know how ****ing lucky you are to be able to do that so freely?! You have no idea. You don’t know what grace it is. You don’t even think about it, you just think you CAN.” In that same way that is probably why they don’t get why people with EDs can’t *just* eat. In fact I’ve been asked that. I don’t think I responded then, but when I thought about it after, it was kind of like, “Okay, why don’t you just stab yourself in the hand?”
Another woman I hadn’t seen for half a year, when she’d seen me in relapse, was like “Wow! Look at you, you got so skinny! What happened. You used to be so fit! I wish I could look like you.” In contrast other people were shocked when they saw me, so I knew on some level this was disturbed. So I point blank told her,”Yeah, no you don’t.” Then she gasped, “Why? You don’t eat?” [no s***] Me: “Yeah, I have anorexia.” Her: “Oh, you shouldn’t do that.” I was beyond explaining at that point and just walked out. Sigh. Ignorance..
So, SO true. People think that eating disorders are “just diets,” but few people understand that they are hell on Earth.