Have you ever admired someone for having an eating disorder? You look at their small body and think, good job! Maybe you’ve even looked at them with envy? Wishing you had the strength to restrict so that you could be that tiny too.
If you think what I just asked you is insane, think again. Eating disorder envy is real, and it is poisoning the minds of millions of girls daily.
I am one of them.
What I’m about to tell you is probably one of the darkest secrets I have. I’m ashamed to have ever had these thoughts. Yet no matter how wrong I feel for having them, they stay on my mind.
When I was in the sixth grade, I remember doing a project on eating disorders for health class. I researched Anorexia and Bulimia and wrote an entire paper and presentation on the two. I remember Googling images to use for my presentation and being completely shocked by the results. I was twelve years old and staring at images of girls with their rib bones, collar bones, and hip bones jutting out beneath their thin layer of skin. It frightened me and made me feel sick to my stomach.
Yet somehow over the years, my feelings changed.
When I was a teenager I began to understand why those girls wanted to starve themselves. The pressure of looking good became more prominent in my life. It had nothing to do with me. Food made me happy. It had everything to do with the people around me and what made them happy.
During my teens I tried to have an eating disorder. Sounds absurd right? I tried eating less and starving myself. I tried throwing up after meals. For me, it never worked. I had the opposite problem. All I wanted to do was eat.
As I became more active on social media, girls with eating disorders began to trend in my newsfeed on Instagram. Only the message they were sending me wasn’t the right one. It wasn’t the message I’d received from my 6th grade project, or even the one they were trying to send through their caption. To me, the message these girls were sending through their eating disorder was, it’s the first step to looking the way you want to look.
First, you develop an eating disorder to lose the fat. Then, you lift weights to gain muscle.
The message these girls were sending me was, eating disorders are essential to achieving that “hot bod” you’ve been wanting for years. In order to look good, you must first develop an eating disorder. It’s the only way.
How twisted is that?
It all comes down to ENVY.
It’s such a dangerous emotion. It controls our minds and distorts our views. It makes us absolutely insane. Obviously. I can sit here and tell you that I’m being ridiculous, but in the moment, when I’m staring at that picture of another girl…it’s all I can think about.
I’ve never wanted to share these thoughts because I have many friends with eating disorders or in recovery from an eating disorder and it would break my heart to offend them.
However, tonight I shared my recent frustrations about food with a group of girls via social media (because I’ve finally come full circle to where I feel the urge to restrict)… and do you know what someone said in response?
She wanted and wished she could hate food. She was envious that I and the other girls in the comments restrict ourselves, and that she could not.
Her comment shattered my heart.
What have we done to ourselves?
How have we let it get this bad?
As girls, we are so broken. Our minds are broken. Our hearts are broken. And our bodies will soon be broken if we don’t make a change.
To give you an idea of some of the many forms of eating disorders:
Anorexia Nervosa: an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat.
Bulimia Nervosa: an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.
Binge Eating Disorder: is characterised by regular episodes of binge eating. Unlike BN, a person with BED will not use compensatory behaviours, such as self-induced vomiting or over-exercising after binge eating.
Orthorexia: a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behavior in pursuit of a healthy diet.
As you can see, starving or vomiting is not always part of the process. What they all have in common is emotions, food, and vanity.
If we don’t put a stop to the incessant vanity of our society, generations to come will suffer as much as we are. If you’ve ever had negative experiences regarding how you look or what you eat, you know how severe this truly is.
Health is important, not for the sake of vanity, but for the purpose of living a good life. Our bodies should be taken care of with love and nurturing. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘Healthy is an outfit that looks different on everybody’. Well, its true. We are not made to be the same. We are not made to be conformed to size. Our health cannot be measured in numbers.
Food and fitness should be enjoyed. It should be used to fuel our bodies and help us grow. We should strive to be strong and happy, not starving and miserable.
What we say about each other matters too, because ultimately, what we say is what we think.
Stop calling people fat. Stop pointing out your flaws. Stop spreading the awful rumor that we all need to be skinny. Instead, rejoice in your beauty and the beauty of others! Replace your envy with appreciation.
Eating disorders are not to be coveted. They are real, and they are a problem.
What I’ve learned in the past few years, is problems need to be discussed. We can all walk around pretending that nothing is wrong with us. Pretending that life is full of only highlight moments. Pretending that all is well. OR… We can talk about it. We can share what is going on behind the scenes and help one another.
There is someone out there waiting to hear about your problem so they can finally know they are not alone. Speak up. You could save a life.
As for today’s blog topic…PLEASE, do not envy me for my struggle with food. I would not wish it on anyone. It is a mental and physical battle that should never have to be fought.
Balance is what we should strive for, and the only one we should listen to about it is our body.
The best lesson you will ever learn about health is how to listen to your body. If you have yet to accomplish it, it will sound strange and impossible. However, after years of being involved in fitness, I finally know what it means. Your body is smarter than you think. It will tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t. Just listen.
I love you all so much. You are all beautiful and deserve happiness.