What is an Eating Disorder?

Eating Disorders are a real, traumatic mental illness, and they are valid at any weight!

It is estimated that almost 1 million Australians, 8 million Americans and between 600,000 to 750,000 people living in the UK will have an Eating Disorder at any one time. That’s A LOT of people (and that doesn’t even touch on the people living in other countries), yet we’re still living in a world that views Eating Disorders as a ‘cool, diet trend’, or ‘something only white, privileged women get’.

But here is a quick list of what people with Eating Disorders actually look like;

  • Child
  • Adult
  • Elderly
  • Male
  • Female
  • Trans
  • Non-binary
  • Straight
  • Gay
  • Lesbian
  • Bi
  • Asexual
  • White
  • Black
  • Middle Eastern
  • Southeast Asian
  • East Asian
  • South Asian
  • Central/South American
  • etc

allof these people

Eating Disorders don’t discriminate, but our health services do.

Millions of people are getting turned away from health services each day because they simply ‘don’t look like they have an Eating Disorder’. What we’re forgetting is that Eating Disorders are mental illnesses, and for the most part are very invisible. Unfortunately, the presence of the weight criteria for Anorexia Nervosa still means a lot of people are not reaching eligibility for services.

Services are understaffed, under resourced, and stretched beyond their limits, but this does not give staff an excuse to continue to hold the ideal that ‘Eating Disorders only present in one, uniform way’. This has lasting damaging effects on people seeking help and only strengthens the all too common thought that ‘I’m not sick enough, I need to lose more weight so people will take me seriously’.

This is dangerous.

P4b

Image taken by Me and My ED’s upcoming project, ‘Stop the Stigma’

Things need to change.

With education comes understanding, and with understanding comes acceptance. We could be doing a lot more, but if we remain unaware, then nothing happens. The Stigmas surrounding Eating Disorders stay in our culture, and people living with them stay hidden in fear of judgment and not being taken seriously.

It’s Me and My ED’s mission to make this a reality. A world in which people talk openly about their illness and have the confidence to fight for their right to treatment. A world in which friends, family, doctors and carers can identify an Eating Disorder before it manifests into a full blown illness and have the skills to intervene. A world in which recovery is a possibility, and we lose less people to premature death and suicide.

This world is possible, and it all starts with you.