What’s the first thought you have when you see a very thin girl on the street or in a picture on a blog?
She clearly has an eating disorder.
Goodness, somebody feed her.
Or how about the thoughts when seeing a curvier woman?
Lazy couch potato.
She shouldn’t eat that burger and move more.
… and then people usually either stare, whisper to whomever is walking with them – or: spread rumors. Yet all of these points are assumption. This is what you can’t tell from a person’s appearance. If I wanted I could further to the many times I got wrong first impressions of people – non-ED-related – who later became good friends. But in light of the fact there are whole forums dedicated solely to gossiping about [or at least that one huge I’m sure many of you have heard of before]. Analyzing their appearances, diets and whole lives. This as well as several bloggers’ posts adressing the topic of [presumed] EDs on their part – like this one by Katie – I felt like sharing my thoughts and experiences on the issue. Not because I’d personally been subject of any rumors or mean commentary lately – not for a good long while. Simply for the cause it’s an ever-occuring topic on- and offline.
When there is so much you’ll never know. Even I personally will admit I have these thoughts when I see an underweight person. That’s when I remind myself I don’t know her story. I don’t know if she actually has an ED. Just naming one example would be a friend of mine who’s still very skinny as a result of battling cancer. People who know won’t look or ask. But if outsiders saw her they might come to wrong conclusions.
Don’t stare at people who are on either end of the weight spectrum [or in non-weight-related ways different from the norm] – because chubby people have to deal with hurtful commentary as much as thin ones. Stares, finger-pointing and gossiping behind the person’s back hurt – online as much as in real life. If you’re concerned about somebody: ask. Maybe offer help. Don’t spread rumors. Give them a chance to explain their story. Or if they don’t want to: accept it.
The weight of a person doesn’t open her mind to you. If you saw me right now you’d probaly have similar thoughts to those mentioned above, too. In fact, I’d assume I look similar to what I did when I started my blog. But my mindset has changed a lot since. And mindset plays at least as huge a role as weight. I’m not naive and saying weight didn’t matter in recovery – it does. But just because somebody is at what is considered a healthy weight doesn’t necessarily mean their mind was at the same stage of recovery. Just like – as mentioned – somebody being over- or underweight doesn’t automatically mean that person was [still or at any point] excessively over- or undereating.
Progress can be made or on its way even if somebody doesn’t look like it yet. Weight gain and recovery don’t happen overnight. Like I said: I’m not immune to the automatic assumptions, either. But I’m trying to keep in mind there’s so much more to a person her weight doesn’t tell and stares hurt.
Happiness inducing today: Having a surprisingly productive morning [for a night owl this is a big deal].
Stay in touch!
No questions today. Just whichever thoughts or experiences you have regarding the topic.