White teenage female. Private school student in an upper middle-class suburb. Inveterate perfectionist. Anorexic.
At age 14, I typified the so-called eating disorder stereotype. These illnesses have long been associated with middle- to upper-class young white women, even among the most sympathetic professionals. (Hilde Bruch, a pioneering eating disorder practitioner, said in her 1978 book The Golden Cage: The Enigma of Anorexia Nervosa that anorexia primarily affects girls raised in “privileged, even luxurious circumstances.”)
Unfortunately, stereotypes still prevail, in part because eating disorders most often get the spotlight when one befalls a rich or famous young female. Undoubtedly, these women suffer just as acutely as non-famous people with eating disorders. But in turning celebrities and models into kinds of mascots, we risk construing eating disorders as trends or extreme diets, rather than the deadly illnesses they are.
Read the rest of the article on Healthy Minds’ blog.
For the next six months, I will be guest blogging for Healthy Minds Canada, a national charitable organization that funds mental health and addiction research across Canada. (Formerly the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation.)
You can follow all of my posts for HMC using the hashtag #AfterAnorexia.