Monthly Archives: August 2011

Choosing Life

I’ve been asked to participate in a documentary following the lobby efforts of the Eating Disorders Coalition to pass the FREED Act. FREED will allocate research dollars, increase public awareness, educate health care providers, and bring down the cost of treatment for eating disorders. I was given the honor of being asked to share my own story at the EDC’s Congressional Briefing this past spring (April 2011), which is how I got in touch with the documentary folks.

They’re trying to do segments on all of the presenters from the briefing, as well as central members of the EDC and other volunteers who have lobbied. They were in town last night to start footage and interviews with myself and another Richmond-based volunteer.

Part of the segment they want for me involved my family. We went to my parents’ house and they interviewed my mother about what it was like watching me, at the age of 18, descend into anorexia. While my family was a big source of support in recovery (once I finally told them I was sick), I realized that I’ve never really spoken to my mother about that particular topic. Continue reading

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If You ‘Feel Fat’, Does That Make ‘Fat’ An Emotion?

The following is adapted from a work-on-progress.

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Fat is not a feeling? ‘I can’t take credit for that phrase, but I’m really fond of it. Of course, you can feel tired or hungry, but I want to focus on the word feel as it relates to emotion. Granted, you can have the sense of being anything – compliments can make you feel attractive, insults can make you feel ugly. But just because someone said you were attractive doesn’t make you look any different than you did before someone commented on your appearance.

And, yes, certain things might make you “feel fat.” The reason I don’t buy into it, though, is that I’ve never heard anyone say “I feel thin today.” I’d like to try and distinguish between what I’ll call a ‘sense of being’ and an actual ‘feeling’ is, though. I think we can all agree that ‘fat’ isn’t an emotion. I think it’s also safe to say that most things we’d consider emotions – anger, love, hate, joy – can also be rooted in feelings. Continue reading

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No Numbers, No Compromises

This post is exploring food and weight-related numbers in pop culture and in group settings. A few good friends pointed out that while focus needs to be steered away from numbers, they should also not be made taboo. For example, someone in recovery who is on a meal plan has to keep track of calories and monitor weight. I’m in no way suggesting that someone in those or similar circumstances should avoid numbers. But I do like the idea taking emphasis away from numbers like weight and finding other ways to think about our health. End disclaimer, begin rant.

The focus is always on numbers. Health magazines, exercise programs… everyone seems concerned about their weight.

When it comes to eating disorders, the topic of numbers seems unavoidable. Weight, nutritional information and content, clothing size, BMI – It seems there is no shortage of ways in which to measure the effects of an eating disorder on one’s body.

Any time there’s a magazine article or news story on eating disorders, people want to know what someone’s “lowest weight” was. These numbers get plastered on magazine covers and thrown in your face to shock and amaze readers. In my last post, I wrote: “Idolizing thinness and obsessing over weight – that’s part of what anorexia makes you do. When news articles do that very thing, all they do is reinforce the disease and its’ assault on our bodies and minds.” I’d like to discuss that more. As far as I’m concerned, if a reporter is asking specific questions about weight loss, foods eaten or not eaten, etc, they are interviewing the eating disorder and not the person who is suffering from it. This is a very important distinction. While that information may be important to doctors and dieticians monitoring the health and progress of a person in recovery, it does not belong on a magazine cover or plastered all over a blog. Continue reading

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The State of Male Eating Disorders

We in the eating disorder activist world have grown guarded over media coverage of eating disorders. Pictures of emaciated models, “shocking” statistics over how much weight someone lost or how much food they weren’t eating, and what are referred to as “war stories” – descriptive accounts of eating disorder behaviors at their worst. This type of coverage is problematic because it focuses on the same things that the person with the eating disorder focuses on. Idolizing thinness and obsessing over weight – that’s part of what anorexia makes you do. When news articles do that very thing, all they do is reinforce the disease and its assault on our bodies and minds.

Therefore, I’m always happy to do interviews because I see it as an opportunity to speak about eating disorders in a realistic, serious way, from a perspective of health and recovery. I know friends in the ED world who have had interviews canceled when they repeatedly wouldn’t disclose what their “lowest weight” was, including for a national morning show (much to the disbelief of the show’s producers, who couldn’t believe someone would turn down that kind of publicity). Continue reading

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