Oh, celebrity anorexia rumors… they never stop.
As I was researching the relationship between eating disorders and social media for a conference I’m presenting at in May, I stumbled upon a rather abhorrent story called “18 Anorexic THIN Celebrities That Need a Few Big Macs!”
(For obvious reasons, I’m not linking to it. But the website is called Juicy Celeb, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know.)
It’s so frighteningly off-base that it’s not worth the effort it would take to even begin correcting it. I only just had the energy to roll my eyes at it.
I shouldn’t be surprised that eating disorders such as anorexia are still woefully misunderstood, even with 2016 showing such promise for combating mental health stigma. I forget about that ignorance sometimes, because I’ve been immersed in the language and reality of this illness for years now. To me, concepts such as “Eating disorders are illnesses” and “Anorexia is not a choice” are self-evident.
Still, I wish it was globally understood that anorexia is not just the story of the “thin ideal” that society feeds to us. It’s certainly not a Hollywood crash diet or the latest juicing fad.
This Is Anorexia
Anorexia is not an aesthetic or an ethos.
Anorexia is heart failure, and kidney failure, and muscle atrophy, and being too weak to climb a flight of stairs.
It is nasal gastric tubes, and forced feedings, and needle sticks, and degradation.
It is brain shrinkage, cognitive decline, unbridled and unfounded hostility.
It is being perpetually cold, being unable to sit on hard chairs, being unable to conceive of a future beyond the next 12 hours.
It’s broken hips and porous bones at the ripe old age of 21.
Anorexia is that conflicted look on a doctor’s face, the one that falls somewhere between compassion and contempt.
It is the nurse who has “real patients” to see — the ones who actually “want” to get better.
It is the chronic pain of hunger coupled with the chronic exasperation of hearing yourself refuse to “give in.”
It’s a stomach that rejects solid food because it’s forgotten how to digest.
It is waking up tired and going to bed restless.
Anorexia is cutting off everyone around you, one by one, because you don’t have the psychic energy to uphold your end of a relationship, and they can’t be expected to endure your rejections forever.
It is wondering whether you’ve been demonically possessed, or whether you’re truly the one destroying yourself from the inside out. It is the simultaneous astonishment and horror that you have it within you to override your basic humanity in such appalling ways.
It is emails and texts that go unanswered, a voicemail filled to capacity, birthday cards that get returned to their senders because you haven’t checked the mail in months and the postman gave up stuffing letters into it.
Anorexia is not glamorous. It is hell.
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