What do you think of when you hear the term eating disorder? Maybe you think of a dancer trying to make the ranks of prima ballerina. Dancing 8 hours a day for the ballet company just in practice, knowing if they don’t maintain sample size status they can be cut and never dance again. They keep diaries measuring caloric intake versus calories burned hoping to keep the net at 1,000 calories.
Maybe you have an image in your mind of a junior high girl going through puberty. A girl caught between a woman and a child who idealizes all the wrong people. Up until this time in our life we are happy to weigh in at the doctor. Our parents and doctors want us to grow taller and gain weight at every checkup. Now, we are thrown into peer pressure and social comparison.
Maybe you think of people who have everything like Princess Diana. She is probably the most famous Bulimic woman who brought a spot light to these disorders. There is a story that she would hide and cry in the bathroom and her sons would hand her tissues under the door.
Maybe you think of people that suffer from compulsive over eating disorder. Someone who relies on the comfort of food to get through the day. Someone depressed and eating to fill a void. Just like the Ballerina who eats the recommended 2,000 calories but only nets 1,000 calories after exercise and eating, someone who is completely sedentary can eat that same 2,000 calories and weight close to 500 pounds.
These are all extremes. These disorders have narrow criteria to be diagnosed with one of these labels. Most people with disordered eating fall in the category of EDNS (Eating Disorder Not otherwise Specified). It could present in many ways and people can go from tendencies of one disorder to another depending on the season of their life.
To be fair I think it’s all of our fault. We, as a nation, have come to idealize youth and arbitrary standards of beauty to sell products. In the 50’s it was the era of the bleach blonde bombshell, like Marilyn Monroe. In the 70’s bigger women got breast reductions to look like the famous model Twiggy. Now we have the Kardashian’s to peddle us waist trainers and fake eyelashes. Yes, I own a waist trainer and admit to wearing it when I’m feeling fat. But we should all take pride to just be ourselves and stop perpetuating unrealistic beauty standards.