53 posts tagged eating disorders
Some: But fat people can’t be anorexic, the DSM says so.
Others: But what if the DSM’s wrong? It’s been wrong before. Many times. Disastrously so.
Some: It’s not wrong this time. Fat people aren’t anorexic. The idea of fat anorexics is laughable.
Others: Can’t fat people — and in fact, many do — exhibit the same behaviors as anorexics (like hating their bodies and starving themselves)?
Some: It’s not the same.
Others: Why not?
Some: Fat people should hate their bodies. Fat people are icky and deserve to starve!
Others: There it is.
While overweight people with eating disorders can, and most certainly do, in my opinion, exist, they are more likely to exhibit signs of bulimia than anorexia.
There is more to anorexia than just hating your body, as that trait is a common link between the two main eating disorders classified in the DSM IV-TR. While there are different types of each, anorexia has two main classifications: restricting and binge/purge. Bulimia has purging as it’s main type, but also “non-purging” which includes fasting or exercising.
Restricting is the type most commonly associated with anorexia, exhibited primarily through drastic reduction of nutrion intake and/or specific rules one sets up for oneself around when and how to eat. Binging and purging also exists as an anorexia trait, as it does in bulimia, the difference being the degree to which an individual exhibits obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors. Anorexia suffers, particularly of the restricting type, are very much obsessed with rules they create for themselves and compulsively act
There is also difference in the root thinking, most times: bulimia stems for the fear of becoming overweight or obese, where as anorexia often roots itself in the idea that one already is.
The DSM does currently use weight as way to differentiate between the two disorders, though. Bulimia is said to occur in normal to above-normal weighted individuals, whereas anorexia presents as under-weighted.
While the DSM 5 is about to come out, I could type up the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria if anyone wants.
Disordered eating doesn’t always occur within the guidelines set out by the DSM, in fact most people exhibit disordered eating patterns that could fit the criteria for all disordered eating. The fact that they make one of the criteria for being diagnosed as anorexic a specific body size is the main point of the post and a lot of criticism from fat activists. I’ve also never come across any literature that has shown fat people are more likely to be bulimic that doesn’t rely on the DSM to deny fat people that diagnosis, though just doing a quick search of research available I wasn’t able to find any.
So as far as I know there has never been a study to try and find out what percentage of fat people have a specific form of eating disorder. Most researchers incorrectly assume all fat people partake in bingeing and purging or focus on fat people with BED, which reflects the lack of studies and how fat phobia / stigma impacts research. That can be for numerous reasons, the researcher is interested in BED for personal reasons or grant funding for research for fat people with eating disorders wants the research to focus on BED specifically.
Fat people can and do often exhibit all of the criteria for being diagnosed as anorexic but are misdiagnosed because of the restrictive nature of the DSM. The fact that a person is fat does not disqualify them from being anorexic and a preoccupation with being fat, when you are fat, shouldn’t either. Just imagine the uproar if every person who fit all of the criteria for anorexia except they stayed at what was considered to be a normal weight was misdiagnosed.
Most people who die from EDs do so far before that weight classification is met, which is the main reason the DSMs diagnosis criteria in incredibly harmful.
Cont. shaming thin girls who have eating disorders does it become comparable? I’m not sure because as someone who has struggled with an eating disorder I feel it definitely impacts the way we view mental health and people who are ill as stupid
So, first thing’s first: “stupid” is ableist…maybe a better word is “broken” in this case.
And you’re close to seeing the real issue here, which isn’t about thin people with restrictive eating disorders, but with stigmatization of mental health issues. Mental health ableism affects fat people too, but usually fat people have to deal both with the stigma of having an eating disorder and a fatphobic culture that doesn’t believe they can have restrictive or purge-type eating disorders.
I know the culture is hung up on this myth that the size of your body is absolutely and linearly tied to food minus exercise, and that causes a lot of issues like the conflation of very thin and very fat people with restrictive or binge-type eating disorders. But we can’t, in turn, conflate ableistic shaming of people with eating disorders with their size.
In short…it’s complicated. There are a lot of cultural narratives combining to create this issue. Saying that shaming thin people with restrictive EDs is thin-shaming erases fat people with restrictive EDs, and ignores how stigmatized mental health issues are more generally.
I hope that made sense.
[tw: eating disorders]
Thin privilege is being able to be treated for your eating disorder because its existence is acknowledged. I’ve struggled with bulimia for a long time, ruined my teeth with it. I always feel guilt and shame — at every meal — and yet when I went to my doctor to talk about them, the subject was quickly shamed.
I heard him speaking to a nurse about how if I were actually bulimic, I’d have lost weight within the past 6 months instead of gaining 15 lbs. :/ Why is this okay for him to do?
(mod response: It’s not. Check out how to report a bad doctor. -ATL)
Thin Privilege is not being afraid to go to your eating disorder group because you are sick of saying how difficult it is for you to recover considering every person, TV show, doctor and magazine tells you that you are “unhealthy,” “wrong” or some sort of “monster” due to your fatness and then being met by the thin people in the group with “but we all get that same message.” Denial of my fat body is sort of the problem… I don’t need that from the people who are supposed to help me recover.
Thin Privilege isn’t having your therapist agree with you when you tell them that to accept yourself, you need to lose weight. I’m currently size 10 (post recovery) and I deal with ED issues, self harm, major depression and social anxiety.
She agreed with me, gave my ED voice validation and me permission to destroy myself. All because unless I’m thin, there mustn’t be any issues.
Thin privilege is people actually being upset when a major industry encourages you to starve yourself.
Swedish modeling agencies recently came under fire for recruiting girls outside ED clinics. Make no mistake, this is horrible. But I notice that many of the people calling them out for encouraging eating disorders seem to have no problem with the “Obesity Epidemic” rhetoric, or the multi-billion dollar a year diet industry. Because a thin person with an eating disorder is tragic, but a fat person with one is seen as “obviously not trying hard enough”.
Yes you can. But fat people are way less likely to be diagnosed, and so are more likely to suffer longer because of the anti-fat culture. Go away.
Note that according to current DSM-IV and the future DSM-V fat people can never meet the criteria of anorexia nervosa. That doesn’t mean fat people can’t meet all the other criteria, of course.
[tw: eating disorders]
I know that this isn’t the focus of your blog, but I still wanted to let you know that this site has played a huge role in overcoming my disordered eating. I was critically underweight for the last two years and no conversations with friends or support groups online has helped me the way this blog did, because there is always this underlying warning of “Well, yeah, you should gain weight BUT DON’T GAIN TOO MUCH I MEAN THAT WOULD BE EVEN WORSE”. I feel like social standards and expectations make recovery for anorexics so much harder, because so many people do not seem to realize that while the perception of somebody with an eating disorder is highly distorted, so is the “norm” that recovery groups and doctors want you to aim for.
You do such a fantastic job at dismantling stereotypes and prejudices and regularly coming here has made me realize just how distorted not only my personal body image and understanding of health is, but also that of society as a whole.
So, yeah. I understand that this might not get published as it has little to do with your overall mission, but I still wanted to let you know just how much you have helped me. I feel so much more relaxed around food and I’m more comfortable with my gradual weight gain than ever. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
When I was young, I was chubby. Certainly not ‘overweight,’ but chubby.
My father made it a point to make very insensitive remarks and tell me I should lose weight. For instance, at the age of ten, he told me I should go on a diet… not the smartest thing in the world, considering my parents were the ones who were in charge of my meals and I had no idea what a “diet” meant. All I understood was that something was wrong with me, that I was somehow different and needed fixing, that I didn’t deserve food and that I was worthless for not being able to control myself. For years, I hated food, I hated myself and I hated my body.
In high school I developed eating disorders and depression, which thankfully I was able to overcome. At least partially. Today, I’m very thin, but it doesn’t matter. Inside I’m still the same little girl who is ashamed to eat in front of others. The difference is, I learned to act like everything is fine, although in my head I can still hear my dad’s voice saying “don’t you ever think about anything other than food?!” (he said that when I was eating an apple, FYI).
I love what you are doing. People shouldn’t be judged and criticized like this and your weight is nobody’s business but your own.
I will never talk to my children about their weight! never!
[tw: suicide, eating disorders]
I can totally relate to the “Fat shaming and mental illness” post.
I started getting harassed at school for my weight when I was 8 years old. That was when I began to develop depression and anxiety, especially social anxiety. I remember asking God in second grade, “Why do you let them do this to me?” I attempted suicide the first time when I was 13. The next time was a year later. I overdosed on a bunch of pills and ended up in the ER. I had a seizure and they had to pump out my stomach. Even though I got on antidepressants at 15 and was attending both individual and group therapy, I attempted suicide again at 16. The last time was at 17. These were not cries for attention as in most of the occasions, nobody even knew about them. They were desperate attempts to escape the hell of being called an “ugly fat bitch” on a regular basis. I felt disgusting and that nobody could possibly ever like me. It was especially difficult finding fashionable clothes to wear. I grew up in the 90s, before the days of Torrid and junior plus lines. The mean girls would mock my clothes and say I dressed like a grandma.
It’s been nearly 10 years since the last time I attempted suicide and even though there are times I feel like absolute crap about myself, I’m still glad my attempts were unsuccessful. Now I’m 27, engaged to a wonderful man who tells me I’m perfect just the way I am, I have a Master’s degree, and I’m gainfully employed. Even though by the BMI’s standards I am “morbidly obese”, I still have a lot going for me and I try to brush off any haters that come my way. No matter how bleak things seem and how miserable you are at a given moment, things can and will get better. Hang in there!
tw: eating disorders
Thin privilege is being able to feel comfortable eating in public without fear of hearing comments such as ‘she doesn’t need that’. It’s never feeling like you don’t deserve a meal because you’re too fat. Thin privilege is not fearing people are lying when they say you’re finally losing weight, finally starting to ‘look good’.
Thin privilege is not feeling so ashamed and disgusted one day that you just stop eating all together. It is not having the same people that shamed you for eating before, begin to plead with you to have something.
It is not being proud that you’ve currently had no food in 22 days, because this is what a fat hating society encouraged you to do all along. Thin privilege is not being made by a fatphobic society to feel petrified of your own reflection, or a number on a scale.
(Mod note: Obviously other people get eating disorders for other reasons. But it’s incredibly vital to highlight the role fatphobia and the privileging of thin bodies plays in the triggering of, development, and increase in eating disorders in our society. -ATL)
Lesley Kinzel (via curvesahead)
I will always reblog this because it is so so important.
I just want to nail this to every stable surface I can find. I cannot count the amount of times that I’ve seen fat folks being encouraged, cajoled, and even forced into behaviors that would be recognized as disordered eating/exercising patterns in thin folks.
Pretty much everything that’s done on shows like The Biggest Loser would be called out as pro-ana/pro-orthorexia in a thin person. Exercising past the point that it hurts, to the point where you’re throwing up, even injuring yourself? Berating yourself because you didn’t lose ENOUGH weight this week? Constantly talking about how fat is weakness and thinness will make everything better, about how you can’t stand to be your current weight anymore? Emphasis on weight as a sign of how much control, strength, and worth you have? Viewing food as bad, as a temptation to sin? Constant sharing and talking about tips on how to minimize food intake, how to lose weight?
That sounds exactly like every pro-ana/pro-mia blog I’ve ever seen. It’s also what fat people are told we need to be doing to ourselves until we’re thin.
Because mothafuckers wanna act like the media has NO influence on eating disorders
Now shut the fuck up.
Yes. If they’re so concerned about the health of children why don’t they promote healthy practices to all children instead of discriminating against fat kids? Not to mention none of the programs instituted to combat childhood obesity have ever been shown to work. In fact, there’s growing evidence that these programs do a lot more harm than good, reflected in the sharp increase of eating disorders among younger and younger kids who directly cite anti-obesity messaging in their health classes as the trigger.
And, of course, fat kids get bullied partly as a response to stigmatizing anti-obesity messaging, but many anti-bullying activists who are also anti-childhood obesity don’t/won’t acknowledge this (Michelle Obama, I’m looking at you).
Here’s an interesting program I listened to on NPR the other day that talks about some of these statistics and stories.