Proud2Bme | Fighting the Shame of Stigma

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Fighting the Shame of Stigma

By Laura Porter--When I took my first steps toward recovery, I had to accept that I was struggling with an eating disorder—and I was scared.

I was afraid if I admitted I had an eating disorder, something was inherently wrong with methat I was somehow defective or broken. I viewed my diagnosis through a skewed lens and shamed myself for something that was out of my control. I labeled myself: I was abnormal, helpless, powerless or “messed up.”

This is the stigma I internalized. Stigma is shame, a mark of disgrace imposed by society on a person or group of people because they are different in some way. Stigma is when people say that those struggling with eating disorders are “wanting attention” or tell someone to “just eat, it’s not that hard.” Stigma is when we say someone is bulimic or someone is anorexic, when we would never say someone is cancer.

Stigma is shame, and it fueled my self-hatred. Stigma told me lies about mental illness, but through an increased awareness and knowledge, I fought back against its deception. I learned that in reality I didn’t hate myselfI hated stigma and I hated the eating disorder.

What I was dealing with was an illness, a sickness. I was not dealing with character or behavioral flaws or trying to repair a broken person. I was sick, and I needed time to heal. Once I came to accept my eating disorder as a sickness, I began to work on having compassion and love for myself.  

I wasn’t selfish, broken or looking for attention. I was a sick person trying to get welland I did.

One of the most important things I’ve ever done for myself is to fight against the stigma I experienced. I not only break down the stigma of mental illness for myself, but want to for others who may be in the same place I once was.

I encourage you to fight stigma whenever you notice it. Whether it’s negative beliefs you’re holding onto about yourself or someone else outside of you, you have the power to speak out and break down stigma.

When we speak up, raise our voices and make noise, we shut down stigma. We take away the power of stigmaand give it back to ourselves.

Want to find out five ways to fight stigma? Check out this post from our friends at Active Minds.

About the blogger: Laura Porter is a student at George Washington University majoring in political communication with a minor in psychology. After taking three semesters off of school for her own mental health struggles, Laura became passionate about advocating for increased awareness of mental illness among college students, specifically eating disorder awareness. Laura served as president of Students Promoting Eating Disorder Awareness and Knowledge at GW (SPEAK GW) as well as a communications intern at Active Minds, Inc.  

Also by Laura:

5 Things I've Learned in Recovery (As Told Through Broad City GIFs)

5 Ways to Advocate and Promote Awareness on your Campus

Taking Up Space: An Interview with Beck Cooper

Never Stop Fighting for Recovery

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Proud2Bme is an online community created by and for teens. We cover everything from fashion and beauty to news, culture, and entertainment—all with the goal of promoting positive body image and encouraging healthy attitudes about food and weight.

This site was developed in partnership with Riverduinen and made possible by generous contributions from JPMorgan Chase, Globant, the University of Delaware, and The Hilda & Preston Davis Foundation.

Proud2Bme was first launched in the Netherlands by Riverduinen, a mental health organization that has licensed the concept to the National Eating Disorders Association. Unless otherwise noted, all original content on this site is copyright The National Eating Disorders Association. The Proud2Bme brand, logos, and trademarks are property of Rivierduinen.