Proud2Bme | Yahoo Survey Exposes Misconceptions Around Eating Disorders

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Yahoo Survey Exposes Misconceptions Around Eating Disorders

By Lauren Myers--For many people, “eating disorder” is merely a term, something that they have heard people speak about in the media or when someone has said that they wish they had that problem. However, eating disorders are much more than that; they are mental illnesses.

Recently, Yahoo and Silver Hill Hospital conducted a survey asking people—who self-identified either as having an eating disorder or struggling with disordered eating—how they felt about themselves and how others felt about them.

They found that those with eating disorders thought that others viewed them as attention seeking, selfish, vain and unhealthy, while they viewed themselves as unhealthy, insecure, compulsive and sick. This reveals a powerful insight into the thoughts and attitudes associated with eating disorders.

Often, I find myself explaining to friends and family that there is a language of eating disorders that internally translates and transforms daily language into something quite different, which can be very distressing to the person speaking and being spoken to. A reasonable compliment turns into subjective criticism because the voice in our head undermines it all. Constantly bargaining with it is exhausting. 

I lived in shame for many years because I didn’t live up to the internalized ‘should and shouldn’ts’ of my eating disordered voice. The social stigma of thinking that I was just suffering from a diet gone wrong, paired with my own self-stigma of being a “control freak,” reduced my chances of asking for or receiving help.

For eating disorders to receive the support that they need, the stigmatization needs to be removed and the harsh reality of the disease needs to be understood. Eating disorders do not discriminate by age, gender, class, color, culture, size, shape or weight. They cause a variety of health complications, including heart problems, electrolyte imbalances and osteoporosis. They are frightening, chaotic and isolating.

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness—but they are treatable and recovery is possible. We can reduce the stigma, pain and isolation of these mental illnesses by being aware of how we talk about these devastating disorders and educating ourselves and others on the facts.

About the blogger: Lauren is a student at Simpson College majoring in philosophy and minoring in women's studies and exercise science. On campus, Lauren is involved TriDelta, SELF - a body positivity and activism group, SARA - Sexual Assault Response Advocates, and volunteering.

Also by Lauren:

Taking Care of Yourself While Caring for Others

Building a Community, One Hashtag at a Time

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.