I am starting a series where I debunk eating disorder myths that are very common and just completely false. Here is the first:
Myth #1: “But You Don’t Look Like You Have An Eating Disorder”
I feel like the number one myth is that the only people who have eating disorders are the one’s who visibly look extremely skinny to the point of looking unhealthy. People believe that you have to be basically a skeleton, be hospitalized, or in rehab to have an eating disorder. I know people who are guilty of believing this myth and it’s just not true. Those are such extreme results of an eating disorder.
ANYONE can have an eating disorder, no matter their size or shape. You can be overweight, underweight, normal, anything and still develop an eating disorder. Just because you don’t visibly “look” like you have one, does not mean you do not. Losing weight in any manner takes time as well. Eating disorders are a mental illness above all. It is a voice in your head lying to you about what you look like and making you feel terrible for the body you have. There is no picture definition of what an eating disorder looks like.
Also, not everyone who develops an eating disorder ends up being hospitalized or needing to go to treatment. There are many people out there who have never gotten to that place, and that does not make their experience any less of a struggle.
Saying these things to someone who has confessed to having an eating disorder are extremely hurtful and damaging. A person suffering already feels like they are not good enough, that they’re not sick enough. Opening up to someone else is a huge step that should be acknowledged, recognized, and praised. It should not be questioned nor shot down.
Your struggles and experiences are not invalid because you don’t look like you’re suffering. You are as equal and important as anyone else struggling too. I love you, and I see you. I am so sorry to all of the people out there who are suffering but are not believed because they don’t “look like” the stereotypical image of someone with an eating disorder that society has made us believe.