A little rant about eating disorder myths

Recently, while on a Facebook page regarding eating disorders I noticed a few comments some people had made about eating disorders and thin people. One said, "It was great when Dove soap starting using real women in their ads" and another said, "It's just time to wake up and see that a size 0 is just sick! We need more people to join our fight!" (They were both men, by the way)

Okay. First off, let me start by saying it's comments like that that make me think just for one tiny second that I can't fight this fight anymore. It's too big and too deep and too tall for just little ol' me to lend a hand. However, then I squash that pesky voice and take two steps at a time up on my soapbox:

"It was great when Dove soap starting using real women in their ads"

ALL women are REAL women. Did you hear me? ALL of us. It doesn't matter if you are a size zero, eyeball deep in an eating disorder or naturally a size zero and healthy. Or if you are a size 24, or if you wear a triple XL, or anywhere in between. When we start to use terms like "real" we judge everyone else and we are no better off than companies like Victoria's Secret who only use ultra thin models in their ads. (I think that the commenter got confused when referring to Dove ads. Dove started the Real Beauty Campaign, not Real Women).

"It's just time to wake up and see that a size 0 is just sick! We need more people to join our fight!"

A size zero is NOT sick. Someone that suffers from an eating disorder is sick. And by sick, I mean ill. An eating disorder is no different than any other mental illness that needs to be treated by a medical professional. I know several women that are a size zero or close to it, that are perfectly healthy, do not starve themselves to be thin, nor do they participate in any other behavior that warrants an eating disorder status. They are judged for being thin, people assume they are starving, and are even disliked merely because of their size. No matter that they are smart, giving, kind, generous human beings. In America, they're "skinny bitches" naturally, so they deserve to be crapped on?!?!? To the commenter that said this: I will never join your "fight". You're ridiculous. Get informed before you make such ludicrous statements.

Eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes. It is a huge misconception that only the skeletal and emaciated have eating disorders. That they're the only ones that need help or that die. Yes, I said it: Die. Eating disorders kill. And rarely do you see on a death certificate; cause of death: Eating Disorder. It's complications from it, including cardiac arrest, electrolyte imbalance, malnutrition (that can cause kidney failure and respiratory infections), hyponatremia and dehydration, just to name a few. (For a full list, click here). What someone looks like does not tell you they need help. They don't walk around with a tattoo on their forehead that says, "Hey everybody! I have ED!" They look like you and me.

If you read my post a few weeks back on EDNOS, you know that one-third to one-half of all diagnosed eating disorders fall under the diagnosis of EDNOS. It's so important to know these symptoms, so you or someone you love can get help. This is not a joke. We need to open our eyes and see that people are dying from this. It's very real. But, there is hope and help.


Julie said...

Thank you for your voice Andrea - it' so wonderful and sorely needed! Great post.

Sarah Shaw said...

I totally agree. People that have not experienced an eating disorder hands on do not know what all goes into it. You can have an eating disorder at any size. People need to be respectful of each other and support one another and not judge! That's what creates these problems in the first place.

Kendra said...

Welcome to my ranting - been ranting on this for a few months. Glad you could join! :) xxoo

Julia Barry said...

Great point! I always thought "real women" referred to true representations of women rather than airbrushed Photoshop masterpieces, but I'll be careful about that phrase from now on.

Anonymous said...

You made a terrific point Andrea. Callling someone with an eating disorder "sick" or "not real" does nothing to help, it just stigmatizes the person.

karen pery said...

Andrea, bravo, amen and thank you.

It troubles me deeply that so many lives have been lost, contributions missed, histories cut short, families shattered, because of disordered eating - an illness that I imagine goes undiagnosed more often than not. It is tragic.

Keep shining your light on this, girlfriend. Your words (and soapbox) make an impact.

Anonymous said...

This is so important...I was just as sick from my eating disorder when I was a size 26/28 and obese from binge eating as I was for the next ten years as a double-zero and dying from the complications of anorexia. There are so many faces of eating disorders...I still remember the hostility that I got when I was out in public (when I got the courage to face the world) and I could hear people muttering "Eat a sandwich," when they thought that I couldn't hear, or seeing someone mouth "skinny bitch." It all hurt...almost as bad as the disease itself. thank you again.

cbenavides said...

This an amazing post. It's easy to get so blinded by the greatness of magazines and companies using curvier and larger women, that you forget that there are just as many beautiful slender women that deserve to be acknowledged. Thank you for writing this- it empowers ALL women.