Some: But fat people can’t be anorexic, the DSM says so.
Others: But what if the DSM’s wrong? It’s been wrong before. Many times. Disastrously so.
Some: It’s not wrong this time. Fat people aren’t anorexic. The idea of fat anorexics is laughable.
Others: Can’t fat people — and in fact, many do — exhibit the same behaviors as anorexics (like hating their bodies and starving themselves)?
Some: It’s not the same.
Others: Why not?
Some: Fat people should hate their bodies. Fat people are icky and deserve to starve!
Others: There it is.
While overweight people with eating disorders can, and most certainly do, in my opinion, exist, they are more likely to exhibit signs of bulimia than anorexia.
There is more to anorexia than just hating your body, as that trait is a common link between the two main eating disorders classified in the DSM IV-TR. While there are different types of each, anorexia has two main classifications: restricting and binge/purge. Bulimia has purging as it’s main type, but also “non-purging” which includes fasting or exercising.
Restricting is the type most commonly associated with anorexia, exhibited primarily through drastic reduction of nutrion intake and/or specific rules one sets up for oneself around when and how to eat. Binging and purging also exists as an anorexia trait, as it does in bulimia, the difference being the degree to which an individual exhibits obsessive and/or compulsive behaviors. Anorexia suffers, particularly of the restricting type, are very much obsessed with rules they create for themselves and compulsively act
There is also difference in the root thinking, most times: bulimia stems for the fear of becoming overweight or obese, where as anorexia often roots itself in the idea that one already is.
The DSM does currently use weight as way to differentiate between the two disorders, though. Bulimia is said to occur in normal to above-normal weighted individuals, whereas anorexia presents as under-weighted.
While the DSM 5 is about to come out, I could type up the DSM IV-TR diagnostic criteria if anyone wants.
Disordered eating doesn’t always occur within the guidelines set out by the DSM, in fact most people exhibit disordered eating patterns that could fit the criteria for all disordered eating. The fact that they make one of the criteria for being diagnosed as anorexic a specific body size is the main point of the post and a lot of criticism from fat activists. I’ve also never come across any literature that has shown fat people are more likely to be bulimic that doesn’t rely on the DSM to deny fat people that diagnosis, though just doing a quick search of research available I wasn’t able to find any.
So as far as I know there has never been a study to try and find out what percentage of fat people have a specific form of eating disorder. Most researchers incorrectly assume all fat people partake in bingeing and purging or focus on fat people with BED, which reflects the lack of studies and how fat phobia / stigma impacts research. That can be for numerous reasons, the researcher is interested in BED for personal reasons or grant funding for research for fat people with eating disorders wants the research to focus on BED specifically.
Fat people can and do often exhibit all of the criteria for being diagnosed as anorexic but are misdiagnosed because of the restrictive nature of the DSM. The fact that a person is fat does not disqualify them from being anorexic and a preoccupation with being fat, when you are fat, shouldn’t either. Just imagine the uproar if every person who fit all of the criteria for anorexia except they stayed at what was considered to be a normal weight was misdiagnosed.
Most people who die from EDs do so far before that weight classification is met, which is the main reason the DSMs diagnosis criteria in incredibly harmful.
I’m Samantha. I’m a 27 year old fat ginger. I am also a mother, a teacher, and a human being. And I would like to share a story with you, as well as some encouragement.
As a chubby child/teenager, I was constantly confronted with fat shaming from not just friends, but family members. I was consistently told by parents, and grandparents, that being overweight or fat meant that I could never be attractive. I was told such as ‘Don’t you want to be pretty?’ ‘Don’t you think you should lose some weight while you can?’ ‘Nobody is going to want to love you if you don’t lose some pounds.’ ‘Have you gained weight?’
On top of that, I was blessed with true Irish heritage- I was porcelain white, covered in freckles head to toe, and had bright ginger hair. And as I got into puberty, a severe case of acne combined with eczema. My red hair, my extremely fair skin and the conditions with it, on top of my weight, made me a target for bullying, teasing, the butt of jokes, and there came a point where I realized that nobody believed it was a problem but me. When teased about my acne or eczema, my family told me to wear makeup to cover it up. When it was my hair, my mother suggested I dye it. When it was about my weight, I was actually told by my grandmother ‘Well, they have a point.’
I realize that many people didn’t have this degree of things happen to them. I assume that most parents don’t tell their middle-school aged kids to dye their hair when made fun of. But I know that some kids do go through that, because I was one of them. Some of us are taught all our lives that everything about us is wrong. That we can and should change to be more accepted, not just by society, but by ourselves.
There was a statement I heard a lot. ‘You’re going to be so unhappy when you’re older if…”
“…if you don’t lose weight.” “…if you don’t make an effort to fit in.” “…if you don’t try harder.”
And you know, I was unhappy. But I was unhappy not because I was fat, or ginger, or had acne. but because I had been taught that being fat or ginger or having acne meant I couldn’t be happy. That I couldn’t be beautiful, or sexy, or loved, or even healthy so long as I was being myself.
It took me a good part of my independent adult life to realize that my weight, my hair, my skin…I was defined by none of these things. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am smart, and I know enough now about body shaming in any form to call it out when I see it, even among those who I’m closest to.
The fact that nobody seemed to think the shaming, the bullying by my peers was a problem…including parents, teachers, principals…well, honestly, that’s what worries me. There were points in my teenage years when I seriously contemplated taking my own life because of the psychological, and occasionally physical attacks on who I was. There are kids out there right now who feel like that, because of similar reasons. Body hate is unacceptable, in any form, at any age.
I realize this is a bit of an expose, but I felt it was something that I needed to share.
To those of you who went through, and especially to those of you who are still going through any amount of what I did…I want to give you some encouragement. And even if you don’t believe it now, remember it, and revisit the idea occasionally. It’s the most important thing that I have learned about life so far.
No matter what anybody tells you, the only person who has a say in what is good for you, healthy for you, important for you…is you. You should stay as true to yourself as you can, and no matter what, always remember that you deserve to be happy.
It took me 27 years to learn that. I hope that sharing my story will help some of you learn it that much quicker.
Someone I love is having a hard time not feeling guilty about distancing herself from an alcoholic/abusive father.
I do not have any resources to turn her to, but she is looking for support and shared experiences. I imagine she feels quite alone, especially as father’s day approaches.
I am suggesting she see a therapist - But do any of you know of any blogs/communities/articles that may be helpful or supportive to someone in her situation?
Like most activist spaces body positive communities and organizations have a huge problem with not creating a discourse that reflects intersectional identities. Thin privilege is knowing that you will be able to easily find a community to support you regardless of your body size.
Most body positive spaces are dominated by middle to upper class white cis visibly able bodied women. This lack of intersectional thinking creates spaces where white privilege, cis privilege, class privilege, able bodied privilege and thin privilege thrive. By not acknowledging privilege, body positive spaces reproduce and reinforce numerous forms of oppression and standards of embodiment. Even within fat positive spaces, middle to upper class white cis visibly able bodied women’s experiences dominates most discourses.
As an activist or even an individual trying to find community within body positive spaces, most will find spaces are not willing to think intersectionally about how identity changes lived experience.
Yeah, I’ll say it - this universal call to action for women of the world to “love themselves” is overrated.
Strive for self contentment, be kind to yourself, be critical of media, remain vigilant in seeking empowerment and positivity when you can, form a relationship with your body, live well by your own standards, and by all means - love yourself, if that is within your grasp.
But if you can not find self love, for whatever reason and however long, know that you are not part of the problem.
You have been affected.
Unlearning the hate is hard work, but once we learn how to dismantle the inner-workings of a society and culture that permeates and surrounds our very existence, we can stand a chance of knocking it down.
In the meantime, don’t force it - stop blaming yourself for not “loving your body” enough.
You can not possibly be at fault, when the oppressive culture we live in is the main offender.
I think this is total B.S. Isn’t “striving for self contentment” a little depressing?! Who wants to just be content! That’s the word my Dad used to describe his feelings about life with my Mother and it resulted in a divorce. It’s like saying, “Meh, I have a mediocre body, I guess I am kinda smart - maybe, and I can kind of dress myself okay.” Like WTF. Stand up for yourself, learn that you can control how you feel about who you are and how you look, and that it is completely and totally within you to LOVE yourself. You and only you, can make a difference in your own life. This “affected” stance is just crap. Sorry for trying to support other women by promoting self love and self confidence. Sorry if you don’t feel good about who you are, or are not currently capable of loving yourself. Why do you think these blogs exist? It’s there to inspire women who feel they aren’t good enough, or can’t love themselves, that they can in fact do those things. By promoting self-love and learning to accept who we are as individuals, as women, as confident and incredible creatures, we are already breaking down the wall of oppressiveness and degrading behaviors that society holds so dear. By choosing to love ourselves we are winning. We (women) are breaking the rules when we decide to actually like who we are and how we look. That we accept not being a size 2 or being able to see our ribs through our back. To like having curves, and not developing eating disorders. To actually strive and work hard for something we really want. How dare us! Of course we live in an oppressive culture. Look at what we see on tv, in magazines, movies, how characters are described in books, and the women in music videos. To constantly be compared to something that so little of us could ever actually achieve is heart breaking. It hurts. We deal with being teased, tormented, we don’t see the beauty in ourselves, because we only ever hear in our own minds what other people are saying and what we see in the media. You are right in the fact that its not always our fault for not completely enjoying how we look or who we are, but you are wrong in thinking that we can’t change that and that we can’t LOVE ourselves. I am learning to love myself. It’s a process. You don’t just wake up one morning, look at yourself in the mirror and think, “Damn, I am fabulous, gorgeous, and oh so sexy!” That’s not how it works. But when you can wake up each day and say, “I think I look great in this top, or my hair is working wonders today, or I love the way my body looks in this outfit, or I can ace this test, or I’ll definitely get that job,” we are taking a step - getting that much closer to LOVING ourselves. It’s within all of our grasps to love ourselves. You just have to learn to let go of the negativity that has been hammered into your brain for so many years, let go of the hurtful memories, or things people may have said to you. Let go of the image you are supposed to look like and start to imagine one that you would actually like to have, and know you can get there, and achieve it. You just have to take the first step!
Wow. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone miss a point so hard before. Good job.
What I don’t understand is that…
Comics are violent, right?
The media is violent, right?
So are we glorifying violence by acknowledging it exists and depicting it?
So how are we glorifying obesity by showing fat people and not ignoring their existence?
Since when is ACKNOWLEDGING something glorifying it?
And why CAN’T we glorify obesity?
We glorify thinness and people hurt themselves every day, mentally and physically, trying to achieve it.
I’m tired of people on that ‘stop glorifying obesity’ bullshit
Because that’s doublespeak for ‘stop trying to make me see fat people as human!’
This. The bold is mine.
When I was a child, fitness was not rigid. It wasn’t a responsibility or a way to measure value, worth, or health - it was FUN.
Barefoot running through neighborhoods with callused little feet, splashing in the pool, jumping on the trampoline, acrobatics in the front yard, and rollerblading around the block…It was all play, without focus on performance or the failings of my body. It was all refreshingly simple.
From the moment I was able to pick up a baseball bat, I was enrolled in t-ball. I immersed myself in dance classes, figure skating, softball, basketball, and competitive swimming. I loved it all with boundless energy, diving into various athletic activities with excitement and an eagerness to enjoy myself with my friends.
(Before puberty struck, I was ambivalent towards my body - because it had not yet begun to hold weight.)
At some point, as I grew older and made it onto my junior high basketball team, the whole “It doesn’t matter if you win so long as you have fun” mentality stopped being enforced - and in retrospect, I can see how that is the point at which my relationship with sports and fitness began to take a turn into problematic territory.
Altering your vocabulary to exclude harmful terms makes the world a more enjoyable and safe place for you and the people around you and also it is not very hard trust me I did it and I don’t do much.
All those special individuals who tend to respond with unyielding rage to the fact that health cannot be ascertained through sight alone always remind me of malfunctioning robots.
“Fat ≠ unhealthy? Health ≠ moral imperative? Does. Not. Compute. Activate raging self-defense mode. BEEP BOOP. EXTERMINATE LOGIC. MALFUNCTIONING. MALFUNCTIONNNN—”