Fatphobia in the ED community?
Trigger warning: This post is all about eating disorders.
Eating disorders (EDs) are something I have a hard time understanding outside of my own personal experience. And I know I’ve talked about this before, so forgive me if this post may be a little repetitive. I’ve said before that I’m in recovery for EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified, which is the diagnosis they give when you’re fat even if you meet the criteria for anorexia or bulimia).
See, for me, fatphobia was the center of my experience. The hatred of my own fat was everything to me. I recognize that there were aspects of control involve too. For example, when I was stressed I would often became more obsessed with eating less and it provided an amazing sense of having power over my own life. But the real reason wasn’t control. No, it was fat. I had to be thin! Not because thinness showed control over my body, but because thinness was what was accepted by society. Despite people saying “it’s not about being thin!” well… it was an awful lot about being thin. I know it’s a mental illness, not just something “normal” men and women get from social pressure, but I can’t help but think that social pressure was a huge fucking chunk of what triggered it for me.
And when I look into the windows of ED forums everywhere I see the same thing. I rarely see someone saying they feel out of control; I see them saying they feel fat. I rarely see them freaking out about the stress in their life; I see them freaking out because they gained a few pounds. See, here’s where I really need help understanding eating disorders, despite my own struggle with one. If it walks like fatphobia, talks like fatphobia, and acts like fatphobia, then how come it’s not fatphobia? At least that’s what I keep hearing from people. It’s not about the weight.
I recognize that I’m projecting. Because my own experiences with what would otherwise be classified as anorexia and bulimia were weight-centered then it’s difficult for me to not see that in other people… especially when they’re complaining about being fat. Okay okay, let’s go back. Let’s assume that eating disorders are all about control and not about being skinny. Isn’t it still inherently fatphobic? They use fat as a stand in term for disgusting, unwanted, unlovable, ugly, or worthless. They (and understand when I say “they” I’m not by any means referring to all people with EDs, just those I’ve observed) use photos of people like me as thinspiration. They weigh themselves constantly and judge their worth for the day based on what that number says. And let’s go back to that thinspiration: they use people like me to perpetuate their disease, to validate their feelings that fat is the worst thing on the planet you can be. Being fat is so bad that death and sickness are better than being that. Than being me.
Death… is better than being me. Am I your worst nightmare? I feel like shaking these people sometimes. Like telling them to snap out of it. That fat isn’t ugly, isn’t bad, isn’t worse than death. These people are my comrades, yet I constantly feel outside of the community because I’m fat. And they’re afraid of fat. They’re afraid of being what I am and have always been. I have no choice but to live in my fat body and maybe they have no choice but to fear living in my fat body, but at the end of the day, that’s what fatphobia is. That fear, that hatred, that revulsion.
Maybe I’m just rambling here. In fact, I’m pretty sure I am. But how do we combat fatphobia in the ED community without coming off as ableist or insensitive? What are your experiences with eating disorders? Did fatphobia play a big role in your ED, as it did mine? Do you think curing social fatphobia will also help in curing disordered eating and eating disorders? How much do you think fatphobia and sizism play a role? And can you explain to me how I fit into a community that would give anything to keep from being like me?