STOP Saying These Ignorant Things To People with Eating Disorders

eating disorders - image of a person with a shocked expression on their face; person is wearing circular sunglasses with their mouth wide open

I am sharing some of the most ignorant comments that have been made to people with eating disorders.

Oh No They Didn’t…

Oh, but yes they did…

People say dumb shit.

I wish that these examples were exaggerated. However, they are 100% real statements. And they were made to people suffering from the daily torment of the highly lethal illness of an eating disorder.

There are brave ED warriors out there who have to deal with their own demons in their minds minute-by-minute. While also combating the ignorance of a society that just does not get it…

Whether it comes from a doctor, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend- These comments are painful and have a lasting effect.

Can’t Make This Up…

“You’re too smart to do something so stupid.” – KC

This comment is truly ignorant.

Eating disorders are not about being “smart enough” to avoid them.

They are a medical illness that kills daily. This is equivalent to saying that cancer knows you’re a college graduate. The same disease that haunts young elementary school children can plague the elderly doctor that has battled their whole life. Eating disorders aren’t about being “smart”… they are about being sick.

“It’s good that you don’t have it as bad as some people.” -AB

Excuse me? Eating disorder and good should NEVER be put together in a sentence. Those of us who suffer are already comparing ourselves WAY too much to others and not feeling worthy of help. We do not need your “bright side” mentality that diminishes our pain and suffering.

“Why can’t you just eat?” – MM

Honestly, this is the worst. If it was THAT easy I would have done that a LONG ASS time ago. You see, just because something is simple doesn’t make it easy. Think of something that you are terrified of. For someone that suffers from anorexia, food can be as life threatening (in our minds) as stepping into a hungry lion’s cage. Does it make sense to someone who does not feel that way? No. Does that make it wrong for me to need help to get past that fear? Also no.

“If you just eat healthy foods you won’t gain weight and you’ll be fine!” -LM

Just as “why can’t you just eat” is offensive, so is “just stop eating”. Think about it. Eating disorders are all in one category, we just use different behaviors to “cope” with the noise in our brains. And telling someone to “stop eating” is just barbaric. People who suffer from binge eating already feel enough shame around food and also have restrictive behaviors. Telling someone to “stop eating” is telling them that they are not worth living- when you think it is okay to say this… JUST. DON’T.

“You’re lucky- I wish I had just a little bit of your will-power.” LM

Excuse me? Lucky to suffer minute-by-minute in my brain, tormented by a life-threatening disease that kills tortured souls daily? I think this one can speak for itself. If you believe that people who have an eating disorder are lucky, you are the probably the same person who thinks the stomach bug is a blessing. Society has idolized the “perfect body” to the point that a person would wish anorexia upon themselves to attempt to achieve it… sad is not a strong enough word.

“Just eat a ___________________.” -RF

You can add anything here: hamburger, frosty, milkshake, celery, salad, steak, cupcake, cookie, carrot… believe me when I say, we have heard it ALL. Everyone seems to think that there is a miracle food that can magically cure one from disordered eating. This just further proves we are giving food too much power over our thoughts and our existence. Eating disorders are an illness that takes mental, physical, and emotional help to get through. There is no one food that can cure an ED.

“You’re gross.” -BH

Think about this: For someone who picks apart their body, their mind, their worth every second, your flippant remarks do nothing but solidify the demons that plague that person’s brain. You may think that someone who suffers from an ED is gross. But what you DON’T see is the broken spirit that is begging to be told they are WORTH living. If you can’t help build a person up, please refrain from tearing them down.

“You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.” – RH

This one is more damaging than you can ever imagine. Society is already trying to convince us that we are not good enough, and then when a family member, a friend, or even a doctor chimes in that we are failing at the disorder, as well, then all hope of getting better seems to slip away quickly. Anyone that has heard this statement most likely accelerated the life threatening behaviors just to PROVE they need help. Which is heartbreaking. FYI:

Eating disorders don’t have “a look”. Period.

We See You

To anyone who has been told an ignorant comment while trying to fight for your own life amidst an eating disorder, WE SEE YOU.

You are not alone in your pain and suffering.

Also you don’t owe anyone an explanation…

You are human and worthy. And you deserve to be free.

That is all outsiders need to say.

XO,

Brooke

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