It’s been exactly three years since I was assessed at South London and Maudsley hospital and diagnosed with Binge Eating Disorder. I was thirty-seven, black and had an eating disorder that took a while to believe was due to more than just my lack of willpower to stick to a diet.
Over these three years I’ve heard a lot, experienced plenty and formed my own thoughts and opinions in what often feels like a messy, confusing space with conflicting ideas and views. However there’s one topic that continuously comes up in meetings, discussions, projects, social media and one to one conversations – the need to expand the face and narrative of eating disorders, who they affect and how they present themselves so that more people can receive the care and support they deserve.
In the healthcare world they call this addressing health inequalities.
Like many, the first image that used to come to my mind when I thought of an eating disorder was a young, very skinny, white girl with anorexia. Why didn’t I imagine someone of a different race and gender, older in age with another type of eating disorder and larger body shape?
Maybe because I believed the stereotype? A stereotype that exists and is solidified in the mind of society through visuals and content?
Eating Disorders do not discriminate, they affect everyone and don’t just exist in a body that weighs a certain amount or looks a certain way either.
Despite this fact, when you dive behind the scenes of eating disorders, you discover a world that is informed and designed based on the stereotype rather than the reality. Unfortunately that leaves many people out in the cold suffering in silence, some like me who never even consider that they might be experiencing an eating disorder.
Legislation, Education, Treatment and Research, while still needing much improvement for everyone, is led by the stereotype and that needs to change.
Introducing Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023
Eating Disorders Awareness Week starts today and the theme is eating disorders in men.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of the campaign video, they say men guided the campaign but I’d be interested to know the diversity of that involvement … anyway I digress and don’t want that to take away from the fact that I support the theme 100%. It’s an opportunity to find out more about eating disorders from a different perspective and I celebrate the acknowledgment that men are affected by eating disorders too. Obviously I’d love to see more diversity of the experiences shared, but this is why I continue to show up and hope others will too.
Over the week I’ll be sharing some creative pieces as well as my own reflections, relating to the theme but in true Anny style I’ll be colouring beyond the lines of that too … it’s just what I do!
Sign up to the mailing list to receive updates throughout the week and beyond … I feel a new creative, purposeful wind coming! It’s about time, right?!