I just watched this documentary called ‘Thin’ which was, predictably enough, all about eating disorders. (please don’t watch it if you feel it might trigger you) It followed the progress of four women at a treatment facility called Renfrew in Florida — Brittany, Shelley, Polly and Alisa. The movie ends with an update on all the women. One of them loses 40 pounds and tries to commit suicide. The other three continue to lose weight rapidly and are battling with anorexia/bulimia. It was AWFUL. I switched it off and started searching for information on the documentary, to try and get an update on whether the women featured were even still alive.
I’ve been asked to write about eating disorders on multiple occasions and so, here I am, writing about it. This is such a loaded and emotional subject, People who have suffered from ED’S sometimes have someone say, “Whatever, you were never that skinny, you were never that sick, you’re just pretending”. There is a common misconception that only the painfully skinny girls have eating disorders. It’s simply not true. There are plenty of average-sized and chubby girls who have them too. Just because it doesn’t manifest itself on the outside doesn’t mean it’s not affecting your body, your mind, your quality of life.
Once upon a time, One of my best friends was anorexic. Her problems with eating and food really began when she moved away from home. I think she wasn’t ready to accept the responsibility of being an adult. I remember her saying, just before she recovered, that all she really wanted was to get really sick so she would have to go home and live with her parents again. She just wasn’t ready to deal with the world, so her solution was to get sick and revert back to being a little girl. The people she was associating with had weird food problems of their own, which she never really thought about until much later, but of course the people you spend time with influence you, everything rubs off.
I’m not going to talk about how she ate or all the times I saw her jump on the scales all the time or cried in front of the mirror… I don’t think that’s helpful. Just know that she was miserable, and she honestly thought that losing weight was the only way she was going to fix things.
If she had not taken steps to get over it, there is no way she would be where she is today, (A buyer for Topshop no less!). She never would have thought she was capable of doing anything like that — she hated herself. However now she is a completely different person today than she was even a year ago. She is so much happier, she has done so much work on herself.
Here’s another thing about eating disorders: they are really boring. It’s all you can think about. You obsess in supermarkets and freak out. Your personality starts to disappear. You sit in your room and smoke and try to keep yourself busy, distracted. You don’t want to go out with other people because they might eat something and then what would you do? It’s pathetic, it’s ridiculous. I actually call her once and said “You know, having an eating disorder doesn’t make you interesting. You were interesting BEFORE. This shit is making you BORING.” She didn’t agree with me; she couldn’t. she didn’t have the self-esteem. But now, of course, she sees that I was right. (As harsh as I sounded!)
The cult of eating disorders is seductive. It beckons to you with a slim finger. You think you’ll be okay, you’ll just halve your food intake and continue to function as normal, but lose weight. You’ll be like one of those models: thin, gorgeous, beautiful, popular, intelligent and capable of living like a normal person. It is NEVER like that.
I have read and thought a lot about this subject and by now, I am totally convinced that it is never really about food or body image. The media doesn’t help, but that’s not really it. Eating disorders blossom into being because of lack — lack of love, lack of self-esteem, lack of support, lack of control, lack of direction. An eating disorder is simply a convenient place to channel your frustration. Some girls eat to fill themselves up because they feel unloved, others starve themselves in an attempt to take the reins of a world in which they feel they have no impact. It is different for everyone, but it is never as simple as, “I want to be thin”, it is never as simple as disliking food, or loving it too much. Ever. The eating disorder is the symptom, not the cause.
If you really want to be in control of your own life, be joyous and don’t let anyone take it away from you.
Please, please, please, look after yourselves. Eating disorders are so destructive; they take over your entire life quickly. Even if you think you’re not losing weight, or it’s not making a difference, there is trouble brewing beneath your skin. At the time you won’t care, all you want is to be skinny and glorious, but when your teeth start falling out, you start vomiting blood or you have to go to the hospital for colonic irrigation because you’re so constipated, you might change your mind.
You are enough, you have enough, you do enough. You may not believe it, but it’s true. You have worth, and people love you, no matter how bad a person you think you are. You have to learn to accept and love yourself the way you are! I know it sounds cheesy but it is true. It is the key to happiness.
My friend? She has cupcakes for breakfast sometimes, is happy, healthy and looks better than ever!
You are BEAUTIFUL!
(All images sources available by clicking on the picture themselves)