I’m not entirely sure what the general population thinks about eating disorders. Like most mental illnesses, they’re not usually talked about. And when they are, they’re mainly glamorized, used in the wrong context, or viewed in a negative light. Some see these illnesses as tragically beautiful. Others single out naturally skinny women and label them anorexic. People make crass speculations like: “It’s a choice” or “It’s just for attention.” I truly hope that most people don’t believe these toxic assumptions. But I suppose for some, it is still a question of how and why people find themselves with eating disorders.
Quite obviously, I can’t speak for everyone. But I can explain why I think I became anorexic.
Was it my choice?
In short, no.
I did not choose to grow up in a society where women are told they’re only beautiful if they are thin. My family also propagated these ideas. With a sister ten years my senior, I was exposed to dieting from a young age as I watched her try every restrictive meal plan in the book. My mother would always mention that after her divorce, she dropped below a hundred pounds. My aunt would then respond by saying how pretty she looked then, until she met my father and gained all the weight back. My father would describe gorgeous women as being “a hundred pounds soaking wet.” And so, I began to see being skinny as a sign of strength and beauty.