Eating Disorders Aren’t a Joke
[Image] An Asian woman with glasses is at a buffet restaurant with 2 other female friends. They are looking at the selection of food
[Image] Woman and one of her friends pass by a table where a large man is eating by himself. The friend points at the man.
[Friend 1 to Woman] He needs to stop eating, look at him…
[Image] Woman and her two friends are passing by the buffet line. There is a very skinny and happy girl putting food on her plate. Friend 2 whispers to Woman.
[Friend 2 to Woman] WTF she is too skinny for that. I bet she’s gonna go hurl later.
[Image] The three of them are at their table now. Woman is looking at her food nervously and with shame. Both of her friends are looking at her, continuing to tell her their judgement of other people in the restaurant
[Image] From Woman’s point of view, looking down at her plate of food.
[Caption] I am recovering from an eating disorder. Eating disorders aren’t just about weight. They are mental too.
[Caption] When you see food… I see something else…
[Image] Same as previous panel, but instead of a plate of food you see a toilet bowl with the same food in it. You also see Woman’s reflection in the water as she looks down.
[Caption] Even when I eat healthily, I still have the need to just remove the food I just put into my body. It’s how I make myself feel good – feel good about myself.
[Caption] It’s how I live my life. I don’t purge as often, but I feel scummy because of it.
[Image] Woman is at a long, exaggerated table with her friends, but she is at one end, while her friends are at the other. Her friends are enjoying the food and laughing, and their plate is empty. Woman is clutching her head while imaginary voices bombard her with thoughts, and her plate is full of food.
[Caption] Then there are the thoughts…
[Thought bubble] All that food you ate makes you unacceptable. Do something about it because exercise takes too long.
[Thought bubble] You look disgusting, you should purge.
[Thought bubble] You’re not worth your weight, so shed the pounds because you’re worthless.
[Caption] Recovery is a process. But the eating disorder jokes make it harder.
[Caption] Eating disorders are about far more than superficial looks. They are real problems that many people suffer.
There’s a sense out there that everybody knows everything about eating disorders. The jokes are everywhere. Celebrities are accused of being anorexic or bulimic all the time, and those disorders get used as scapegoats for larger problems. Most people don’t credit them as something more than “weight issues”.
But eating disorders aren’t just about weight. They are mental, too.
I’m recovering from an eating disorder. People think because I don’t purge (anymore) I don’t suffer. They don’t know about the relapses. They don’t know that I don’t feel like my (low) weight. People think eating disorders are for “skinny bitches/thin girls/model wannabes”, and some people throw bulimia and anorexia jokes and statements like they mean nothing.
It’s difficult for me to eat and not think, “I may throw this up.” I always think it.
It’s hard to put on a pair of jeans and think, “if it doesn’t fit, I’ll purge”.
It hurts when people tell me, “Just exercise.” I do. It doesn’t help my body image.
I don’t do it to feel pretty or thin either. I do it because I’m afraid of rejection, that people won’t like me if my body changes, and I feel like I’m huge. I compare myself to people all the time, and I feel so much wider and thicker.
As I said, I am recovering. But recovery is a process. There are always the thoughts that run around, unbidden, in my head: “You look disgusting, you should purge. All that food you ate makes you unacceptable, do something about it, because exercise takes too long. You’re not worth your weight, so shed the pounds because you’re worth less.” I am always, always afraid that people will judge me, the way I judge myself.
Even when I eat healthily, I still have the need to just remove the food I just put into my body. It’s how I make myself feel good – feel good about myself. It’s how I live my life. I don’t purge as often, but I feel scummy because of it.
Most people find vomiting disgusting, and hate when they do/have to. I accept it, I want it. I want to vomit, I want to purge, I go lengths to do it. I am a girl, and I hate going to the washroom with others because I want my privacy and I’m embarrassed, I get nervous when I do it in public washrooms, because I’m afraid of what people think.
I notice eating disorder-related jokes more than others. I notice the insults more. When people say, “she/he is so fat, they need to vomit/ I bet she’s over a toilet to get there/ he didn’t always look like that he’s a bulimic,” it hurts me. Maybe “he” is, and hearing that is terrifying cause it’s a huge secret you don’t want people to know. Maybe “she” is always over a toilet, and maybe she isn’t. Bulimia isn’t something you just throw around. And wanting someone to vomit is wishing so many physical repercussions on a person who maybe does not have an eating disorder and still has a healthy chance.
Eating disorders are about far more than superficial looks.
They are real problems that many people suffer.
This week’s comic is illustrated by Rachael Smith. You can see more of her stuff here.