This entry is dedicated to all the people who dedicate their lives to talking about it
AD, LV, AW, JS, KD
Thank you so much for all you do XO
So, if you remember from my first blog post (which was a couple weeks ago, so I don’t expect you to), I explained that one of my main reasons for starting this blog is because eating disorders are not talked about enough. There is not enough awareness of them in the world and they tend to be a very secret thing, something the eating disorder thrives on.
I was in body image group the other day and we did a very difficult but important exercise. We had to write out positive things about our bodies whether we believed them or not such as, “I love my stomach” or “My thighs are just the right size” and read them outloud in front of a mirror (AWKWARD… Thank you JS :)). Basically the whole idea and point around this exercise was that if someone says something, repeats something, or even talks about something enough they become more aware of it. It becomes more fact and becomes more known and that is what needs to happen in our society with eating disorders.
Today I basically wanted to talk about the lack of “talk” surrounding eating disorders. I went to Vroman’s a few hours ago and asked the lady working there if they had any books on eating disorders. She responded with a confused, “Ummmm” before telling me to follow her and we ended up in the tiniest, most miniscule section of books I have EVER seen in my life. Deep in the psychology section, mixed in with numerous books about depression, addiction, bipolar disorder etc. was a tiny white placard with neat black writing printed “Eating Disorders” and on the shelf sat 13 different books to choose from. “13!!” I said it so loud making the guy next to me jumped a little bit. I understand there are a lot more than 13 books written on eating disorders in the world, but the fact that this huge bookstore with rows and rows and sections and sections and genres and genres of books has only 13 books on a disorder that plagues countless men and women and has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness*, I honestly just could not understand it. No wonder it is so easy to hide in the dark with an eating disorder. Why would anyone want to come out and express their struggles with something that many consider vain or shallow? Why would anyone want to show their pain and suffering when many people consider them weak or say their disorder is “non-existent”? This is a big problem with not talking about it. When we don’t talk about eating disorders people can’t possibly understand. That isn’t their fault, they’re just not educated. I wasn’t educated when I first got diagnosed and I have an eating disorder. I could tell you the nutrition facts off the top of my head on any product you showed me. I could recite ingredient lists and calorie amounts, but I didn’t know anything about the voice inside my head that was doing this to me.
A couple of Saturday’s ago we were talking about the myths surrounding eating disorders and oh my gosh were there so many. The stigma surrounding eating disorders is incredibly sad, hard to break, and can be very triggering for those who are victim to it. When I went to my school for our Spring Musical, an event I had been looking forward to going to for a while, I was walking through the lobby when I heard a comment, “Are you sure she had anorexia? She doesn’t look that skinny.” A knife to the chest to say the least. In order to have an eating disorder you have to be skinny… ummmm I am so sorry but no! This is a very common belief among many people and probably the most common one that I have come across. And the reason for it is that we don’t talk about what eating disorders are or what they look like. Eating disorders are not super skinny people or just girls or just teenagers. There is not one race, one socioeconomic class, one gender/sex, one age range, one weight, or one family background for someone to struggle with an eating disorder. People from all races, ages, shapes, and sizes can struggle for an eating disorder. There is common misperception (thank you again, society) that only people who are incredibly skinny have eating disorders, and if you do not look that way, well, you do not have one. Society has contributed so many negative perceptions and stigmas around eating disorders (and other mental health issues) and has relied on the fact that people are too closed off to talk about it.
So, I am starting the conversation. I guess I am actually helping the conversation continue on and become much louder, and stronger, and more powerful.
Fighting eating disorders is not an easy process and by having people who understand makes it all that much easier!
PS. Picture at the top are the books that were in Vroman’s