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May 05 2013

[Blogathon] Wildly Inappropriate Things to Say to People With Eating Disorders

1. But you’re not skinny!

I swear to god, you’d think daring to have an eating disorder while not being rail skinny was the equivalent of wandering around yelling “I WAS MURDERED” while still breathing. No. Staaaahp.

2. But if you don’t think you’re thin enough, what does that make me?!

Bad at understanding mental illness? Lucky to not have an eating disorder?

When someone reveals their mental illness to you, this is not the time to excise your demons.

3. No wonder you’re so tiny!

I wasn’t on the receiving end of this one, but I heard it happen and fled the conversation. Just no. If you do this, you are BAD and you should feel BAD.

4. All you have to do is eat healthily!

In other news, depression can be cured by changing your brain chemistry, and calculus can be understood by using numbers.

It’s a nice effort, but at best you’ve said a word somewhat related to the consumption of food: “healthy” and decided that it’s as simple as just doing that!

5. Here, eat this!

Weird, but common. People will often immediately hand me food. It feels very uncomfortable to turn them down, but a lot of the time, I’m just not hungry right then either. Please don’t use me to assuage your feelings about my disorder.

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  1. 1
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    How about, “Wow, that sounds hard. Do you feel like talking about it, or would you rather we changed the subject?”

    That’s how I usually respond.

  2. 2
    Craig Morgan

    Thank you for this blog, Ashley. It was very helpful, as well as CaityCat’s reply.

  3. 3
    Craig Morgan

    Sorry, make that Kate.

  4. 4
    melanie

    True story: Near the very start of one of my recovery phases, I had to attend some awards ceremony because a really close friend of the family was nominated. None of my clothes fit, so I go shopping. The saleswoman asks something about why I don’t know what size I am, and I mumble something about having been pretty sick for a while. She responds (and this still gets me, half a dozen years later), “I wish I had what you did.”

    Facepalm.

  5. 5
    Melissa Cadle

    I’ve done eating disorder awareness tables and people say the most stupid stuff EVER! Like Melanie said, people who say they wish they had an eating disorder or that their eating disorder is they like food too much… UGH! Why say something when you could quietly just say nothing when you don’t know what you’re talking about?! Anyway, thanks for the article, Ashley!

  6. 6
    Carol

    Here’s one that got me while I was in the process of recovery early on – this coming from someone I knew that knew about my story/issues. I’ll never forget where I was – one of those defining moments. She said, “you’re looking good.” Well, immediately my mind sent me into a total tail spin. “good” translated to “fat” in short order. I certainly don’t want people walking on eggshells around me. But I guess it is what it is.

  7. 7
    Thomas Guihen

    The comment that Melissa referenced of someone wishing they had an eating disorder is epic fail = I wonder if they would be prepared to lose so much weight that it became life threatening and even beyond that = Anorexics have a hard enough time without such prejudice and ignorance surrounding their condition = It is not just about body image though that is part of it = Psychiatric disorders are more complex than that and complex problems do not have simple solutions = If only they did

  8. 8
    Tania

    Very useful info indeed. I have suffered from ED and could relate well. The solution seems simple and obvious from the outside looking in. The person with anorexia must know she’s not close to being fat and that she’ll die if she
    keeps this up. The person who binges wants desperately to lose weight — so can’t she just quit eating so much? A central quality of the eating disorder is the compulsivity of the symptoms and of the inner drive to be thin. Compulsions are behaviors that have an “I have to” urgency associated with them — to the point that the person often no longer feels they are a matter of voluntary control.
    (Ever tried to quit smoking?) I am sharing my eating disorder recovery story in the website eating disorder facts and recovery. Hope it helps in healing all.
    I never believed that I would ever recover fro Bulimia and Anorexia. I suffered for 7 long years. Thanks to the growing awareness now a days, girls suffering from bulimia / anorexia can get well earlier.

  1. 9
    Links! | Boredom Breeds Contempt

    [...] has a short but sweet post about what not to say to people with eating disorders. If I might add a few: “why don’t [...]

  2. 10
    Some Considered And Well-written Articles About Disordered Eating | Lynley Stace

    […] Wildly Inappropriate Things to Say to People With Eating Disorders from FTB […]

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