A recent article published by CBC News discussed the narrow way that eating disorders are portrayed and conceptualized. I did a happy dance in my living room after browsing the first few lines of the article because yes, yes, and yes. This is such an important topic, and while I can’t say that it is timely (this isn’t a new thing), any attention it gains in the press is positive.
The idea that individuals with eating disorders are always underweight is a myth that needs to be upended. Of course, there are individuals who fall into this category and also have an eating disorder, however, there are many more individuals who have a body that is considered typical and who still live with the daily mental and emotional torture of body dysmorphia, obsessive calorie counting, ruminating food thoughts, and a lack of connection to their body. Their lives may have been taken over by an eating disorder in the same way that someone that we would categorize as “underweight” has been.
The scary thing about this, and the reason I chose to write about it, is that guilt and shame often exist inside these individuals for not looking or acting sick enough. Furthermore, this feeling is often perpetuated and reinforced by well-meaning doctors, family members, and even those in the mental health field with a lack of understanding surrounding eating disorders and disordered eating.
Your weight is not an indicator of whether or not you deserve help. If you are suffering from an eating disorder or disordered eating, the fact that you are a living, breathing human is what makes you deserving of kindness, empathy, and care - not the size, or shape of your body, not what you did or did not eat yesterday or today. I hope that you will give yourself the kindness you deserve and seek out help so that you can live life to its fullest.
Lypny, N. (2022, September 18th). Distorted view. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/newsinteractives/features/eating-disorder-stereotypes
Harrop et al., (2021). Restrictive eating disorders in higher weight persons: A systematic review of atypical anorexia nervosa prevalence and consecutive admission literature. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 54(8). 1328-1357. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23519.