• Wed, Oct 16 - 12:30 pm ET

10 Quotes That Will Help You Understand Eating Disorders

anorexia foodI’ve read a lot about eating disorders and I’ve even expressed frustration over the way we usually talk about them. I thought I’d read it all, but I was wrong. Glosswitch’s blog post titled Those who die of anorexia don’t always do so surrounded by sympathy and understanding” on New Statesmen just blew my freaking mind. This is potentially the best piece about Anorexia that I have ever seen. The post discusses aspects of the disorder that usually go ignored so honestly and fearlessly. Glosswitch treats those suffering from eating disorders as well as all readers (no matter how ignorant) with sensitivity, nuance, awareness and even a touch of humor. 

Though it would be a mistake for those interested to not read the entire article, here are my 10 favorite insights:

  1. Right out of the gate, Glosswitch articulates something we didn’t even know we knew: “Anorexia nervosa may not be the most common eating disorder but it’s the one that gets most attention. More visually arresting than all the others, it commands a mix of awe and disgust.”
  2. Unfortunately, I’m guilty of this: “When you read an article about an anorexia sufferer, isn’t there just a bit of you that thinks, “Oh, for fuck’s sake”? It’s not that you want to, but really. For fuck’s sake, eat something. How hard can it be?”
  3. What none of us are willing to say: “We still don’t understand anorexia and what’s more, many of us are still not sure how much we even want to. After all, anorexics are irritating.” 
  4. This one is my absolute favorite because it perfectly encapsulates a twisted reason why we fear and judge people with anorexia : “In a society that idolises thinness and restraint, the anorexic may not choose to be ill, but to outsiders starvation can look like an obscene form of moral posturing.” 
  5. Anorexia can look like a choice, though it isn’t. Glosswitch talks about a new project that seeks to discover more about genetic predisposition to the disease. Though research is wonderful, why would it be easier to accept anorexia if it was developed biologically: “How far do we need to take anorexia from a social context and place it into a genetic one in order to make it “acceptable”?”
  6. People with eating disorders are not weak even if their issue develops out of societal pressure: “However anorexia sufferers make us feel, we must accept it is a horrible illness, regardless of what causes it.” 
  7. It’s easy to understand why anorexia nervosa is hard to understand: “It is difficult to set aside anger and revulsion when faced with behaviour that appears so nonsensical and hostile but however manipulative an anorexic may appear, that’s not what it’s like from the inside. Anorexia sufferers are consumed by hunger and their fear of hunger.”
  8. Even if eating disorders are genetic, we’re still screwed: “As long as there’s Vogue, the sidebar of shame and the 5:2 Diet you’re pretty much doomed. I mention these examples not to imply that ED sufferers are flippant and vain, but to stress that people in general (and women and girls in particular) are told every day of their lives that they need to eat less and take up less space.”
  9. This helps explain #4: “Forcing yourself not to eat when you are hungry and when food is available is a profoundly unnatural thing to do, yet even those who do not suffer from eating disorders are encouraged to live this way.”
  10. And the titular quotation: “Those who die of anorexia don’t always do so surrounded by sympathy and understanding.” 

Image via Shutterstock

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