Content warning: disordered eating
This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDA). Funnily enough I wasn’t aware of this, though I have spoken openly about my eating disorders before on this blog, and I am pro-awareness about them. It showed up in my Google+ feed as I was scrolling last night, and I clicked through to read more about it.
NEDA is pretty good. It acknowledges that eating disorders affect people of all races, ages, genders, and sizes. This is really important. There’s a belief in our society that “eating disorder” is synonymous with “thin, young white woman”. It’s not. Anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, and you can’t look at someone and assume they have one or not based on their appearance.
If you don’t know much about eating disorders, you can read this page and it will give you a good overview. In particular, pay attention to the list of what you should or should not do if trying to help someone with an eating disorder. I’ve had everything on the Don’t list done to me by well meaning people (and some not so well meaning) and I can tell you: it all drove me further into the arms of my disordered eating.
The best thing you can do for someone who suffers from an eating disorder is reaffirm their personal agency and bodily autonomy. Many of us develop eating disorders because of a feeling of loss of control; even if that’s not the cause, having our agency and autonomy denied can definitely worsen the problem.
You probably love someone who suffers from eating disorders. Please read up the info on the NEDA site and learn how to deal with us. Good intentions will not make up for a lack of skill in talking about this sort of thing, nor will they un-trigger someone who’s triggered.
There’s also my post about how to treat a loved one with eating disorders, if you feel like reading a lot of swear words.
If you don’t know what to say, just share something on social media related to NEDA. It will say you’re there and ready to listen — whenever those you love are ready to talk.
Be excellent to each other.