Having an eating disorder is not a new choice of diet, nor is it simply a cry for attention. There is no single source of the development of the disorder, which originates from any number of complications and psychological factors that can develop in anyone, regardless of age or gender.
The fact that someone has willpower and rarely eats is nothing to applaud. This is not an intentional choice. Instead, the reality is that the person does not want to struggle with their disorder but still feels the need to restrict or binge their food intake.
It is crucial for others know that wishing to be the same weight as another person is not a sound goal. Especially since one never knows who an eating disorder. In fact, those with eating issues do not want others to mimic them.
Additionally, there is no such thing as “not looking like you have anorexia/bulimia” or being “too young for an eating disorder.”
For some, eating issues can begin when they are as young as ten years old. Sometimes the disorder can arise in response to bullying, stress, or even idealizing the airbrushed pictures of celebrities and models.
Since a person’s body does not necessarily change drastically from an eating disorder, it does not help those who are recovering from the disorder to hear comments on their appearance.
Furthermore, it is important to know that it is never helpful to be angry at a person for eating too much or too little. Lashing out and berating them for bingeing during meals or eating more late night snacks than normal is not productive. That response could increase their depression or psychological issues, which is another reason that might add to their self-criticism and overall disappointment.
More importantly, if someone wants to understand how to really help others that struggle with bulimia nervosa, binging, or even pica, they must take the initiative to research the disorder. No one can immediately understand what someone else is going through just by looking at their outward appearance, after all, anyone can disguise their troubles with distractions and half-truths.
Ever since the Victorian era, eating disorders have been and still are a problem. During that time it was proper for females to not eat much which was viewed as ladylike and socially accepted.
Meanwhile, there would be speculation and ridicule toward males for having an eating disorder because they are typically associated with feminine behavior.
Eating disorders are gender neutral. However, the stereotypical image of someone with anorexia nervosa is portrayed as a thin, white, middle class or rich adolescent girl. That image is in fact far from the truth since eating disorders affect all genders, ages, races, and socioeconomic classes.
The social standards for a male’s body image have increasingly changed since the 1970s to represent a lean, muscular body. Usually, to keep this image of masculinity, they would not seek psychological help. They face a double stigma. One is having a disorder that could make them feminine or gay in front of their peers. The other is seeking or receiving psychological help.
Many people might feel like it is not necessary to tell close ones about their eating disorder because they think it is not important or are worried that it is a waste of their time. They fail to talk about their problems regardless of the fact that they need help. People with eating disorders are not addressing the issue that they can be in serious danger by eating too little or consuming food past the point of feeling full.
Eating disorders are serious conditions that need be talked about to build awareness. It is important to tell people that the disorders will lead to a range of complications, including poor physical health. Moreover, eating disorders can put a strain on relationships with loved ones.
Written by Brielle R. Buford
Edited by Cathy Milne
THE EPOCH TIMES: Holiday Season a Challenge for Those With Eating DisorHealth
Health: 7 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Someone Who’s Had an Eating Disorder
Reader’s Digest: This Is What It’s Really Like to Have Binge Eating Disorder
WebMD: Eating Disorders in Children and Teens
The New York Times: ANOREXIA: IT’S NOT A NEW DISEASE
Eating Disorder Hope: Eating Disorder Stories of Hope
The Treatment: Writing Medicine and Illness: Rebel Girls: How Victorian Girls Used Anorexia to Conform and Revolt
Daily Mail: My anorexia was fuelled by celebrity magazines: Victim demands ban on airbrushed photographs
ALLURE: What I Wish My Doctor Understood About My Eating Disorder
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Santiago Alvarez’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License