Community Magazine

How Long Before the Stigmas Are Removed

By Survivingana @survivingana

The reply below in Huff Post is brilliant. It is a reply to “Tuthmosis” who listed 5 reasons to date a girl with an eating disorder. Several words spring to my mind and none of them printable here. Yes it got him untold likes and internet publicity. Yes there are “guys” out there who think the same. But the damage it does or the joke focus it gives is so wrong. It is abuse of females in another form.

Any publicity is good publicity right – maybe. For far too many who don’t read or learn about eating disorders properly, this type of stupid commenting only reinforces the stigmas and holds back true understanding and treatment.

Eating disorders affect everyone, regardless of class, colour, race, gender, etc. There are no boundaries or rules. It is an incidious, crippling illness that reduces sane, healthy, normal people into a nameless darkness that has the potential to kill them. They do not ask, choose or want this illness, they do not want to stay in its depths. It is not a trophy illness, an attention seeking stunt nor something that defines their true person.

I haven’t put the whole post in, if you want to read the first part go to:



SWAG:  People With Eating Disorders –


I returned to “5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder,” studied its sad stock photography:

“Skinny, Fancy, White Girl, Hunches Over Toilet With Index Finger Down Throat”

“Skinny White Girl Sees Fat White Girl Reflected in Mirror”

“Skinny White Girl in Snuggly Underpants And Matching Camisole Cries on Top of Scale”

I couldn’t care less what some silly Internet troll says about people with eating disorders.

It deeply disturbs me to realize people actually believe these stereotypes.

It hurts to consider this against what might be a tragic oversight in the case of Brittany Murphy, a stereotypical SWAG picture of American Disordered Eating, who may not have had an eating disorder at all, whose death is still, ultimately unsolved.

It breaks my heart to remember all the faces I met through 10 years in and out of various eating disorder treatment facilities. They’re not all SWAG faces. Some of the most tortured belong to men. Many belong to men and women who are morbidly obese, who are just as depressed and close to death as the most desperate anorexics. The faces in my memories are not all peaches and cream. They’re also maple, chestnut, and terra. Many of them are etched with wrinkles. Many are missing teeth.

Tuthmosis writes, “Nothing screams white-girl problems louder than a good old-fashioned eating disorder. But they’re more than that. Eating disorders have been — quite appropriately — declared a luxury reserved for only the most privileged members of the female race.”

The fact that there is no female “race” aside, Tuthmosis and I apparently grew up in the same subculture, which insists a real eating disorder is a skinny, rich, white girl disease and, thus, not really a disease at all, but a lifestyle choice for spoiled brats and body-obsessed neurotics. That eating disorders are so perceptually linked to affluence is probably why they’re so impossible to treat. It costs upwards of $2,000 a day for eating disorder sufferers to receive impatient treatment. Insurance coverage is sparse and notorious for cutting out before patients make any real progress. Many, many times I witnessed the sheer horror on people’s faces when they learn they’re being discharged because their insurance is up. I’ve heard them beg and plead to stay, threaten to take their own lives, because they can’t possibly survive on the outside.

Twenty percent of people with eating disorders don’t survive on the outside. It takes, on average, seven years for those who do survive to recover. And “recover” is such a devastatingly relative word.

The worst side-effect of the SWAG stereotype is this: the longer we believe only skinny, white, affluent girls suffer from eating disorders, the more we isolate an entire community of not-skinny, not-white, not-rich, not-so-young, decidedly-not-female human beings, who suffer, not only with the soul-sucking burden that is an eating disorder, but with the belief they can’t possible “have” what’s killing them. The risk is it will kill them. And then everyone will wonder why.

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