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Let's Get Coffee: Stop Glamorizing Eating Disorders

April 16, 2018

 

**Full Disclaimer** I have an eating disorder that follows both restricting and purging tendencies— that means that I will be talking about starvation methods, body-shaming, and throwing up. If any of this could be potentially triggering to you, or simply too graphic to read (because yes, bulimic disorders are ugly), go ahead and skip this one. This blog post is going to be gross— I repeat, this one is going to be gross!!!!!! 

 

Every time I fall back into old habits, I can't help but laugh at how ugly eating disorders are. Most times, if an eating disorder gets attention in media, it's usually used as some sort of cheap, underrepresented subplot for a pretty girl, mentioned once or twice and never heard of again. There was Blair in Gossip Girl— I don't think they ever mentioned her bulimia again after the first season. There was Hanna from Pretty Little Liars— they called her "Fat Hanna" until she used her eating disorder to lose the weight— solid solution, guys. 

 

With the way eating disorders are represented in media, it's hard to imagine anyone having one who isn't a supermodel or a skinny white girl. There's a certain, glamorized aspect of having an eating disorder, especially one like bulimia —*you can have your cake and throw it up too!*

Sounds pretty good, right? You can eat anything you want, as much as you want, and then get rid of it. You can be skinny. You can enjoy food. You can look good. You can have it all. Everything will be better once you're skinny. 

 

I used to go onto "pro-ana" websites a lot— pro anorexia. For those of you who don't know how to access them, good. I'm not about to tell you. But these are "eating disorder positive" websites full of girls and boys (but mostly girls) comparing goal weights, sending thinspiration, sharing new ways to starve themselves and new, easier methods to make the food come up. There are girls all over these websites creating forums like "how do I get an eating disorder?" and "I want an eating disorder", as if this fucked up disease is some hot, new commodity. 

 

The problem with media and eating disorders is that media doesn't do a good job showing people how fucking ugly eating disorders are. And how plain gross they are. 

 

Let's rewind— you can eat anything you want, as much as you want, and then get rid of it. Guess what? The simple idea of "getting rid of it" hurts like hell. This isn't food or alcohol poisoning, this food isn't meant to come up. You are depriving your body of the calories and nutrients it needs, and forcing the very thing that fuels you to come up— your body will fight you. Your throat will burn, your eyes will water, your face will swell up like a balloon. I've never been able to use a finger, I use a toothbrush. Can you imagine thrusting a toothbrush into the back of your throat, over and over again? It hurts. Sometimes you cough up blood. And if you think that purging is "one and done", you're wrong. You think that you can put your finger into the back of your throat once and get it all out? It can take five, ten, fifteen minutes. You get vomit all over your hands, and then put them back into your mouth to do it again. 

 

I used to do it in the shower in order to avoid the smell and clean up. Let me tell you, your self-esteem can't go much lower than vomiting all over yourself in a shower. I have choked on my vomit as it's coming up, swallowed it, then thrown it up a second time.

 

Purging is a process— you won't come out of the bathroom five minutes later, looking the same way you did going in. You'll look like you've been crying for 45 minutes. Your whole face will be puffed. 

 

And you can't necessarily control when the need to purge comes up. Sometimes I feel totally fine eating until the very last minute, and then an overwhelming anxiety comes up that makes me feel like I'm going to die if I don't act. 

 

I've purged in my grandparents bathroom. I've purged at the cabin of my ex boyfriend's family. I've purged in the dirty bathroom of a Wendy's. I've purged in the back of an alley and blamed it on the alcohol— I was barely drinking. Throwing up isn't always planned, and it's not always in the comfort of your own home. It's often frantic, scattered, crazy. A frenzy to kill your anxiety, satisfy your needs, but still hide your shame, which is really fucking hard to do when the physical act of throwing up makes you look sick and smell like vomit. 

 

I feel ashamed every time I bring a water bottle into the bathroom, because I know what I'm going to do. 

 

And I feel sick every single time. 

 

I'm losing electrolytes.

 

Every time I get into the habit of purging, I wonder if it'll eventually kill me. Eating disorders kill you. Purging excessively can send you into cardiac arrest. It can cause your stomach to rupture. Your esophagus to rupture. The first time I coughed up blood, I wondered if I'd finally done it. I kept going— I wasn't done yet. 

 

I sometimes imagine what it'd be like to be found dead, next to a toilet, drowned in my own vomit. What a way to go. 

 

Laxative use can kill you. Anorexia can kill you. Excessive exercise can kill you. I used to go on food-free exercise sprees because they made me lose a lot of weight— I nearly passed out at the gym once, then suffered from the flu for two days. 

 

This isn't fun to talk about— it's gross, it's ugly, and it's certainly embarrassing for me. But this is the shit that the media skips, and maybe that's for the best, but I don't know. I'm sick of people glamorizing eating disorders. I'm sick of seeing girls on pro-anorexia websites (who don't even have an eating disorder yet) trying to figure out how they can develop one. You don't want this. 

 

Let's skip past the voices in your head. Past the self-loathing, and perpetuating self-doubt. Past the hatred and anger and depression and anxiety and every little micro-aggression that your eating disorder throws at you. Let's skip past the fact that your eating disorder can feel like a friend that wants you dead. 

 

Beyond this, eating disorders are just plain gross. There is nothing pretty about an eating disorder. There is nothing glamorous about it. 

 

*You can eat anything you want, as much as you want, and then get rid of it.* 

But getting rid of it will kill you every single time. 

*You can be skinny.* 

But you will never feel skinny enough.

*You can enjoy food.*

But you will never truly enjoy food, until you are better. It will make you anxious. 

*You can look good.*

But you will never feel good. And you may never feel like you look good. 

*You can have it all.* 

You will have an eating disorder, that's it. 

*Everything will be better once you're skinny.* 

You will reach for this goal until you are dead. 

 

I hope that I can beat my eating disorder one day. Every time I think I'm getting better, I fall back down the rabbit hole. I know that's the nature of recovery. 

 

I feel embarrassed to be sharing this. Eating disorders, especially purging, tends to come with a lot of shame. I never thought I'd be sharing such a personal thing in such graphic imagery. 

 

If you made it this far, I'm glad you did. I want this to be a shock to the system. I want to kill this bullshit myth that eating disorders are for the rich and the famous, or that they are anything to romanticize. 

 

If you are new to my blog, or have never heard me talk about eating disorders before, you can go back to my very first 'Let's Get Coffee' on EDs, which I will link here

 

As always, so much love.

 

 

**CONTACT THE NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION HOTLINE IF YOU NEED HELP**

 

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-931-2237
Hours: 9:00 AM - 9:00 PM (ET) Mon-Thurs; and 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (ET) Fri

 

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