Just out of interest, I decided to take the Net Doctor test to find out whether it thinks I have an eating disorder
I started by ticking the boxes that best represent where I feel myself to be at the moment. Here is my result:
A few weeks ago, on twitter, I came across this list of 20 Things that People with a Positive Body Image Know. I can’t see any links to research that this list might be based on, so I don’t know if the statements are evidenced anywhere or if it’s based on the opinions and experiences of its creator. While I don’t object to most of the individual statements on the list, the list as whole (and especially its title), initially made me feel defensive and quite angry. I was annoyed by the suggestion that I could ‘know’ my way out of my body image problems and experienced the list as a bit of an implicit criticism, as if my body image problems are the result of a lack of the right kind of “knowledge”.
Content note: descriptions of eating distressed behaviour
January can be a difficult time in the workplace for people with ED. It’s a time of year when colleagues are often more than usually preoccupied with weight and exercise. Several of my female colleagues are now on diets and talking about going to the gym, and one has been commenting on my body in a way that I find triggering – my weight fluctuates a bit and they always comment when they think I’ve lost some. Anyway, I thought this would be a good time to write a post about what my workplace experiences have taught me about our culture’s dysfunctional attitude to food and bodies.
Wow, that was tough. I didn’t manage to post anything here over the holidays because I was too busy struggling with my ED to actually write about it. It’s hard to articulate just how difficult the holidays can be for people with ED, but it’s a time when I feel that we really do find ourselves bearing the weight of our culture’s bizarre relationship with food and eating.
I was reading this post about ED on Geek Feminism the other day and it reminded me that I wanted to write something about the ways in which eating disorder stigma is used against people with eating distress, both as a means to stop us talking about it publicly and to divide us from each other. The post also made me think about the ways that ED stigma can be internalised and even used as a defence mechanism by people with ED, i.e. “But I can’t have an eating disorder because [insert your own identity] don’t get eating disorders”.
From Feminist Eye View, Have you lost weight?
Have you lost weight?
You look really good. How much do you weigh now?
Are you a size four? Oh, uh size two, eh? You look great.
For a person with an eating disorder, these questions do not come as a compliment. No matter how much she weighs, what size pant she wears, or how skinny she looks in the mirror, it will never be enough. No matter what you say, it will never be enough. No matter how healthy she is, it will never be enough. And that is why I ask that you take a few things in consideration when commenting on a woman’s appearance
Then follows some useful advice for talking to people about food and weight, especially if you know they have an eating disorder. The post is directed at women obviously, but I think the advice holds for men and non-binary people with eating distress too.