I was watching a documentary about different mental illnesses, and an 11 year old anorexic was interviewed on it. At such a young age, she identified that the modern ideal of thin being good does not cause eating disorders. What this little girl said was so articulate and true that I couldn’t help but write about it:
“I know that lots of magazines say that people who get eating disorders get them as a result of striving to be as thin/ beautiful as their favourite celebrity or model, and that’s a great story so I guess they wouldn’t want to change that. But it isn’t true. I didn’t get anorexia because I wanted to look like somebody else; sure, when you have the illness, being thin becomes incredibly important, but the only person I wanted to impress was myself. I didn’t ever fully trust the opinions of other people, and because I never felt like I had done enough to please my eating disorder I couldn’t stop what I was doing. I got anorexia because nobody ever noticed me and my whole life felt out of control. People did notice me when I got ill, but not in a good way.”
She is absolutely right. It is a great story for the media, and it may trigger (if coupled with other things) an eating disorder in somebody who is susceptible, but it isn’t true and most people see photos of skinny celebrities without developing a mental illness. Once again, I am reminded that my eating disorder is not about food. Food, exercise and my body just take my energy and stress away from the feelings and problems I can’t deal with.
“An eating disorder is not a diet gone wrong. In a diet, one sees a life outside of the weight loss efforts, but an eating disorder makes your whole life change. It is your life, you lose yourself as it takes priority again and again. The lack of understanding about these mental illnesses can be devastating for sufferers. Ignorance to their true causes make people feel even more worthless and lonely than they already do.”