For a relatively large part of my eating disorder I was what would be considered a normal weight. Because of this, there were many times I felt that I did not deserve treatment. I did not think I was sick enough.
How could I be sick when I looked fine and was constantly told I was healthy?
When I began opening up about my struggles, I was frequently told that I looked great; I looked healthy. Those words killed me.
A lot of people told me that since I was not skin and bones I must no longer be struggling with an eating disorder.
A common assumption is that if you are normal weight or overweight that you do not struggle with an eating disorder. Sadly, this is the furthest thing from the truth.
I cannot express it enough how much damage can be done by telling someone who is struggling with an eating disorder that they do not look sick or that they look healthy. Severity of sickness is not based upon one’s weight.
I vividly remember sharing my struggles with a trainer at the gym. At this point in my life I was compulsively binging and purging throughout the day, and exercising multiple times a day.
The trainer responded that I looked completely normal so I could not be that bad. I was so embarrassed. I felt helpless. This was one of many comments that fueled my behaviors and sent me into a further tailspin.
I know the comment was not meant to be malicious. I know the comment was made out of ignorance, which is why I am so passionate about getting this point across. Your words matter.
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), beautifully explained this myth: As long as someone isn’t emaciated, they aren’t that sick.
“Most people with an eating disorder are not underweight. Although most people with eating disorders are portrayed by the media as emaciated, you can’t tell whether someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them. These perceptions can perpetuate the problem and may cause distress in eating disorder sufferers for fear of not being “sick enough” or “good enough” at their disorder to deserve treatment…..An individual can experience a severe eating disorder at any weight.”
So, please, think before you speak and comment on someone’s weight especially if they share that they struggle with an eating disorder. Weight is simply one’s gravitational pull on earth, nothing more.
Weight does not have the capacity to measure your worth or happiness.