Getting the Nation Talking about Eating Disorders
Hope Virgo, Author of Stand Tall Little Girl and Founder of #DumpTheScales explains her latest campaign #LetsTalkEDs
Close your eyes, and think of someone with an eating disorder…what is the first image that comes to mind?
Now, close your eyes again and image someone sitting down with a plate of food in front of them; stirring their food around their plate. Eating a few mouthfuls. They look slightly distracted, but from the outside apart from the odd flicker of pain in their eyes they look okay. You watch them for a while. Something doesn’t seem completely okay but you can’t work it out so you leave it.
This story is one of hardship, of brokenness, and of someone who carries so much shame and fear. Yes, they might look okay on the outside, but inside they are carrying the pain of an eating disorder. They are feeling so alone, and fearful. They also feel like a fake, because they aren’t as underweight as others might assume they would be.
Now go back to that first image. Was that person emaciated? Were they a white teenage girl? Is that how you came to the assumption they had an eating disorder? I don’t blame you if you had this image. It is the image that so many people have, but it is the reason that so many don’t get the support they need. In fact, eating disorders don’t just affect white teenage girls, but out of the people diagnosed 25% of them are male, only 8% of people living with an eating disorder have anorexia, and black girls are 50% more likely to exhibit bulimic behaviour than white girls. Eating disorders don’t discriminate but can affect anyone of any race, age and gender.
This is why it is vital that we get this nation talking about eating disorders, so that we can end the injustices for so many.
I grew up with anorexia, hiding it from the age of 12 years old. The anorexia was like a best friend to me giving me this sense of security and value that I couldn’t seem to find elsewhere. Whilst there were times when I thought something wasn’t quite right, I kept holding on to it, thinking that everything would turn out okay if I kept doing what it told me to do. I ended up being hospitalised with a failing heart when I was 17 years old. Before I went in to hospital, no one knew how to talk about it. No one felt like they knew what to say. As a society we shy away from eating disorders because we are afraid of triggering people, afraid of saying something wrong. This is why I have created an educational video to help with those initial conversations.
More inspiring reading, every month.
Get much more with a subscription to Woman Alive for only £3.50 a month.
More inspiring reading, every month
Our magazine is written specifically for Christian women who want their faith to impact every area of their lives. Subscribe today and look forward to thoughtful articles, fresh ideas and good advice - all delivered to your door every month. Click on Subscribe for our latest offers.