One of my recurring negative voices is “you never did anorexia probably, you were never thin enough, you were never sick enough, bulimia is an eating disorder to be embarrassed about, you couldn’t even do anorexia properly, no one cares about a bulimic etc etc etc.
I’ve never quite got rid of this voice, and while I can recognise it as not having a useful place in my life, it’s always like a low hum in the background.
Every now and again something happens to crank up the volume on it and today it was this:
This headline came up on my news feed (yes I need to clear my browsing history so the internet stops highlighting this stuff). It is is the relation to the the new BBC3 show ‘Overshadowed’ which while very good, and important, is the latest addition to a recent wave of anorexia shows/films.
I read it and thought to myself, you know what, actually we need to be talking about other eating disorders. We need to be talking about bulimia. We need to be talking about binge eating disorder. We need to be talking about the atypical presentations of anorexia and bulimia, we need to be talking about unspecified eating disorders.
We need to be talking about the disorders that are not a priority for treatment funding or research funding. We need to be talking about the eating disorders that the very people who suffer with them don’t even want to talk about. We need to normalise these illnesses to take away the insufferable immense deep dark shame that they can result in. I will talk about my periods of anorexia, but I won’t talk about how I would drive out of town to a supermarket to not be caught buying binge food. I will tell you about how cold I was when restricting, but we won’t discuss details of how to throw up into a plastic bag in your wardrobe without it leaking. I sought help when my weight reached a magical threshold that might make people pay attention, but no one would comment on my over-exercise if my thighs and belly are wobbling when I run. I cannot verbalise ‘I have an eating disorder’ at the moment because I am far too afraid that the response from a person who is educated by media such as above will be ‘but you’re not thin’.
Then, just to wind me up even more, I saw this:
Yes- it’s that hoodie. The slogan is wholly inappropriate, no one will disagree about that. Yet I’ve been more disappointed by the articles that have been written about it. I know I know these are quickly written response to capture a passing barely-news story but the fact that anorexia is the default go-to just reinforces that negative voice. Most of the stories are about how this hoody trivialises anorexia, how it’s disrespectful to people with anorexia, how anorexia is far more than self-control, about how we need to educate people about anorexia more. Throughout this, there are barely any referencing to bulimia. The hoody is far more insulting to the illness of bulimia but no one seems to want to talk about that – but is that again due to the shame that the illness can carry – that we’re far less likely to raise our hands and say ‘bulimia sucks too (and I have it)’.
Okay, rant over, I just needed to get the crazy out of my head. I know this is something I have to work on, and I’m aware the above rant is definitely not a well-researched critical appraisal of modern media- it is just my thoughts going ‘arrrrgggghhhh’.
Good night all x