Eating Disorders Come in All Shapes and Sizes
Imagine there is a group of people in front of you. Imagine they all have an eating disorder. What do they look like? How thin are they? What does their skin look like?
If you are like most people, you probably imagined a group of people that are very thin and emaciated. You most likely pictured their bones poking through their skin and their waists being so small you would be afraid to hug them out of fear they might break in half.
Now go to a store. Take a look at the people around you. Notice their shapes and sizes. Notice the size of their waists and the look of their skin.
They are all different, right?
Congratulations. You are now seeing what an eating disorder really looks like.
As someone who was diagnosed as a teenager with anorexic tendencies and binge eating disorder, I can tell you first hand that eating disorders do not come in one shape or size. Most people who found out I was struggling with an eating disorder just couldn't believe it. “ You don't look like you have an eating disorder,” they would say. When most people think of an eating disorder they picture someone who is suffering from a severe case of anorexia. But there are so many different types of eating disorders that will cause your body to look so many different ways.
Eating disorders don’t discriminate with size, skin color, gender, or age. They can happen to anyone, at any time. Your brother, sister, mom, dad, cousin, uncle, school teacher, a barista at your local coffee shop could be suffering from an eating disorder, and you would never know if you based it all off of body shape.
I was diagnosed with an eating disorder. But I have never been severely underweight.
Nor have I ever been so emaciated my bones have poked out of my skin.
My type of eating disorder (and there are many different types) caused my body to constantly fluctuate down to the lower end of the “healthy weight” category and into the “overweight” category. My anorexic tendencies would lead me to severely under-eat to the point where I would only have one meal a day. Then binge eating disorder would kick in, and I would eat enough food every day to feed a family of four.
It took a long time for me to receive help for my eating disorder because I didn’t accept that I was really struggling with anything serious myself. No one around me was concerned by my behaviors enough to force me to seek treatment. Why? Because again: I didn't look like I had an eating disorder, so how could I actually have one?
So let's all make a promise to not judge a book by its cover and be more open minded to who may be suffering around us. Reaching out to someone whose behavior towards food is not normal regardless of body size can change someone's life and help them realize they need to seek treatment.
If you think you or someone you know may have an eating disorder, please talk to them or reach out to get help yourself.
If you are in the US, you can call the National Eating Disorder Association help and referral line: 1-800-931-2237
Take care of yourselves,