I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since the age of 10 and spent my teens and early 20’s in and out of treatment. I started my fashion blog when I was around 24 or 25 as a fun, creative outlet while I was looking for jobs after graduate school. A few years in, it had grown a lot bigger than I anticipated and the fashion piece wasn’t enough for me anymore.
I started to become more vocal about the things I was passionate about professionally and personally. These topics included body acceptance, health at every size, the problems with dieting, and the dangers of weight stigma. I felt that I had the privilege of having this platform and I wanted to use it for more than just fashion. If I could help just one person on their intuitive eating journey or show them there were alternatives to living in diet culture, it would all be worth it.
I started getting daily messages from women thanking me for helping them on the path to intuitive eating and for showing them they didn’t have to spend the rest of their lives dieting and fighting their bodies. It was the biggest fucking honor and privilege. But behind the scenes, I was struggling with my own eating disorder.
Of course no one knew. I don’t even remember all the reasons I created for why I was in California so often. I had kept my eating disorder a secret for the 6 years I’d been blogging because I was afraid that being open that I was struggling with a mental illness while also being a therapist would ruin my career and have people think I was a hypocrite. I also didn’t want my entire identity to be this person with an eating disorder because it had already taken so much from me. And by so much, I mean entire decades of my life.
But I was so damn tired. I was tired of keeping this secret that took up so much of my life. I was tired of pretending to be okay when I was dying inside every day. I was tired of not using my voice to share the realities of what eating disorders looked like and I wanted to start talking about the sad state of eating disorder treatment.
So after 6 years of keeping this eating disorder a secret and almost a year of being in and out of intense treatment, I decided to share my story. I wanted to share my story once I was fully recovered and not while things were still such a daily struggle but I thought it was important to share the reality of what fighting for recovery looks like. There is rarely an “aha moment” where you see the light and everything clicks as some of the recovery stories out there suggest. The truth is that recovery is messy and painful and filled with so many ups and downs. Full recovery is complicated in a world where disordered eating is the norm and often encouraged.
There are so many people who share their stories of recovery into thin bodies and I wanted to share the challenges of recovering into a larger body and what that’s like in our fatphobic world. Eating disorders are rarely the emaciated woman that the media portrays, yet it seems to be the only story we see again and again. I think it’s so important to spread awareness that eating disorders effect all bodies, genders, ages and races.
So many people don’t even believe they have eating disorders and don’t feel worthy of getting help because they look nothing like the media’s portrayal. That causes major delays in people seeking treatment which leads to poorer recovery outcomes. I will not stop being vocal because I want everyone to know their struggles are valid and they are all worthy of help and support.
And of course the state of the eating disorder field is horrific. Treatment is often completely inaccessible unless you’re extremely wealthy. And then if you have the privilege of being able to access treatment, that treatment is often steeped in weight stigma. People are bravely seeking help for their eating disorders and often ending up further harmed in treatment, particularly people in larger bodies. We need major improvements in the field or more people will continue being harmed.
How can I stay silent when I can see so clearly how much work needs to be done?
I spoke up about my eating disorder to bring awareness to the general public about the realities of what it’s like to deal with an eating disorder. I spoke up to bring awareness that eating disorders look nothing like the media’s bullshit portrayal. I spoke up because I’m tired of people being harmed every day when attempting to receive help. I spoke up because I want treatment professionals to search inward and do so much better. Oh, and I spoke up about my eating disorder for ME so that I could be my full, authentic self.