Sunday, May 18, 2008

Scary Stereotypes

Another blogger mentioned that Dr. Phil had done a show on "Scary Skinny." The show features women who suffer from eating disorders. Fine. Great. The more awareness and focus on eating disorders the better.

Except...

Most women with eating disorders are NOT scarily skinny. Many are not even close to being underweight. Some are overweight and even obese.

Many women with eating disorders are NOT teenagers. We are in our late twenties, thirties, forties, and older.

Where are the TV shows on us? The normal-weight adult women who are suffering just as much as those whose bodies are skeletal, just as much as those who are in their teens.

Where are the outreaches of help for us? We, the women who are fighting every single day, but for whatever reason, are somehow managing to appear "normal." Who continue to function as best as we can in our internal personal hells. Who fight every single day with no one the wiser. (Unless we use our voices to tell them.)

I'm one of the lucky ones. My health insurance includes mental health and nutritional health benefits. Are they perfect? No. But they are so much better than they had been at a previous job. I'm grateful.

I'm also at a place in my recovery where I am able to use my voice more and more. To tell people that while I may not look it, I am suffering. I am fighting. Some days are tough - especially when I'm dealing with the emotional roots of my disease. I am at a point where I recognize that my eating disorder served (and for the time being, still serves) a purpose in my life and that recognition takes the power away from the disease.

But there have been times when my eating disorder was in control. When I couldn't eat more, even though I knew I needed to. When food scared me.

And I was in my thirties for most of those times.

And I was a normal weight.

Eating disorders are not about the numbers on the scales. They are not about the sizes on the clothes. They are about what goes on inside the minds and bodies of those who suffer.

I challenge the media to start focusing on the majority of people* who suffer from eating disorders. The ones who are in the netherworld of ED-NOS (Eating disorders-not otherwise specified.)

For while our bodies are not horrifyingly sensational, our stories are equally poignant. Our struggles are equally arduous.



*because I haven't even discussed the men who suffer.

1 comment:

Elle said...

Wow. Well said! I'm in my late 30s and have been living with ED-NOS for about 10 years. Sometimes I'm doing okay and sometimes not so okay. About three years ago I was in a bad place and with support managed to attempt recovery. The ironic part is that everybody assumes that I've completely recovered because I'm no longer underweight. The truth is that the healthy part of me is now simply strong enough to fight the ED behavior so I hover around a normal weight. Every day is a battle around food and I feel like there are few like-minded others to lean on. Glad I found your site.