Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016 is over now…Let’s continue but raise awareness PROPERLY.
Weight is NOT an indicator of a healthy mindset. Low weight revelations and before & after photos in media are used to (wrongly) illustrate the picture of eating disorder suffering. While they do show a certain part, this is only one sided and representative of ONE extreme. Eating disorders are a MENTAL illness and, one size does definitely NOT fit all.
You cannot tell what that persons life is like based on how they look. In treatment for eating disorders, patients are told weight is unimportant. So why is it such a focal point in public media? All this does is add to the belief that to suffer from an eating disorder you must be dangerously emaciated. This is not only untrue but incredibly damaging for sufferers.
The focus on weight as an indicator of severity explains why there are people in the work place, in schools, everywhere going through a silent battle because no one will take them seriously.
Eating disorders bear the HIGHEST mortality rate of mental disorders but it is not just due to the visible symptoms: A study done by colleagues at the American Journal of Psychiatry (2009) mortality rates were:
• 4% for anorexia nervosa
• 3.9% for bulimia nervosa
• 5.2% for eating disorder not otherwise specified
Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) accounts for, largely, eating disorders that fall out of existing “categories”- a main determiner is indeed weight.
To back up my petition, I probably needed examples of the media coverage I am trying to ban. But I admit defeat at the first Google- I can’t look at these photos for fear of jeopardising my own recovery from anorexia nervosa.
I have ENOUGH evil in my head telling me I’m not thin enough and shouldn’t be trying so hard to fight, without this being re-iterated by media and by people around me. I want to recover, a recent development in itself which changes hourly and is a concept so much more complex than a simple 4 word decision. I turned to other recovery stories for help and inspiration but instead found myself retreating even further into my own illness as the skeletal images and revelations of low(er than my own) weight- intended to “shock”-only affirmed what my illness tells me constantly: you’re fine.
After hearing others, like me, who are affected by the same images and stereotypes, I started writing my own recovery blog which will NOT mention weight because it is a SIDE EFFECT of my illness and doesn’t mean another person’s struggle is any worse/easier than mine.
For now, after Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016, I want to continue raising awareness but RAISE the point that this is NOT ABOUT WEIGHT. Please join me, help me and others battling the same internal war, in imploring media coverage to STOP including low weight and pre-recovery photos.
Support us in our recovery, don’t belittle it.