Editor’s note: This post contains content on eating disorders that could be potentially triggering.
Have you ever noticed that, when portrayed in the media, ‘eating disorder’ becomes synonymous with ‘anorexia’? It’s definitely not the only type, but anorexia is ED’s poster girl, the slightly more socially acceptable one because it ‘looks good on magazine covers.’ Nobody wants to talk about binge eating or bulimia, because that’s not ‘beautiful.’ But starving yourself to fit into a smaller dress size? Kate Moss says it’s worth it, and look how well she did.
It’s a terrifying thought, but its so ingrained into our society that we barely even notice it. Anorexia has become glamorised because it fits so well into a society that profits from you disliking yourself. Want to look like Kendall Jenner? Buy this detox tea she definitely drinks! Want to be skinny? Just starve yourself! It’s the same disgusting message, just glossed over.
Glamorising any eating disorders, and anorexia in particular, isn’t just wrong, its dangerous. It sets the standard for future generations, and it stops sufferers wanting to get better.
Anorexia isn’t a poor little rich girl’s problem
Anorexia is often viewed as being a problem for the rich, young and female. Girls who ‘just want some attention and control in their otherwise perfect lives.’ That’s bulls**t. Anorexia can affect anyone – and its definitely not for attention. But society likes to paint it as a disorder specific to pretty young girls. Not only is this incredibly harmful to other people suffering – the grown man with a family who’s too stressed to eat or the young trans boy who thinks its the one thing he can control – because it makes them feel like they’ll be judged for coming forward. Glamorising eating disorders alienates people who don’t ‘fit the mould’ and it makes them far less likely to ask for help. But it’s also damaging to the people who do fit the mould, because they start to see it as just another aspect of their lives, just another ‘trend’ they should follow. And speaking of trends…
Being hungry is not fashionable
“I’m going to fast today so I look thinner in my dress tonight;” “Why can’t I be as skinny you;” “I wish I could be a bit anorexic, you know, just to lose a few pounds;” “Have you thought about, you know, just not eating?”
These are all real things I’ve heard, from friends and peers, in my real every day life. Absurd, right? ‘A bit’ anorexic, are you serious? First of all, its belittling and insulting. If you’ve ever said these things – just don’t. But it’s scary that they’re symptomatic of a society that makes us believe skinny is the only way to be beautiful. Every time you’ve seen an influencer selling a detox shake, read a magazine with a photo-shopped Victoria’s Secret model on the cover or thought about needing to get a ‘beach body,’ you’ve been a victim of it. The glamorising of eating disorders has become so prevalent that its actually seen as fashionable. But, please, a life of eating in front of mirrors and repeating ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ to yourself is a very different reality – and its not one you ‘wish’ you had.
It’s not romantic. It’s scary.
For people suffering with eating disorders, its really easy to picture your anorexia in your head as some kind of romantic, beautiful flaw. I get it. I really do. It’s a way of coping and convincing yourself that you’re fine. But the reality of anorexia is far from romantic. Counting your ribs, losing your hair and going days eating just ice and celery is really, really scary – its perfectly okay, and normal, to feel frightened. The most important thing to remember is that, however impossible it feels, you can get better, and you don’t have to be stuck in the mindset forever. If you feel like you need help, talk to someone, see your doctor, or check out these eating disorder helplines, and I promise you it will be worth it.
Alternatively, if you want to read some more of my rants (and occasionally helpful advice) you can check out the below posts:
- Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels
- Caring less about body image
- What no one tells you about eating disorder recovery
- Sun’s out, insecurities out