Many people are taken aback when they find out I had/am recovering from an eating disorder. I don’t fit the “usual” stereotype. I didn’t get into it because I wanted to look like a model. I was rather tomboy-ish as a teenager and didn’t give a flying squirrel about looking a certain way. I had a pretty decent head on my shoulders about those things. So from an outsider’s perspective, it makes no sense that someone like me developed an eating disorder. Now I realize that that’s probably why it took so long for people to wake up and smell the stinkweeds and realize that’s what I had.
It starts to make a little more sense when you look at it from the standpoint of apology. For me, anorexia was one big apology. I quit eating, not because I wanted to look like a model but because I felt like I had to apologize for taking up space and oxygen. I felt the need to apologize for being born with a strong personality. I felt the need to apologize for being a book-a-holic. (That may not seem like something to apologize for, but you wouldn’t believe the insults I’ve gotten for that.) When I got older and started thinking about career choices, I felt like I had to apologize for the fact that offices scare me and I’d rather die than work in one.
It’s a complete myth that only people who are unhappy with their outsides develop an eating disorder. I was indifferent about the outside but hated the inside with a passion. I don’t mean to imply that it’s never about appearance, because for some people it absolutely is. But to say it’s only about that is simplistic and offensive.
I’m pretty much fresh out of (nice) things to say to people who think eating disorders are all about the outside.