Unfortunately, it’s evident that now, in 2016, far too many people still hold beliefs and opinions about eating disorders that are reductionist, belittling, offensive and upsetting.
Anorexia is a lot of things, but narcissistic isn’t one of them…
Here’s a quick look at why, starting with the definition:
narcissism (ˈnɑːsɪˌsɪzəm )
- an exceptional interest in or admiration for oneself, esp one’s physical appearance
- sexual satisfaction derived from contemplation of one’s own physical or mental endowments
- Anorexia is a MENTAL illness. Nobody chooses it. It is not a lifestyle or a diet gone too far. It is a psychological illness with physical symptoms.
- People with Anorexia are usually repulsed by their own body and go to extreme lengths to punish themselves.
- Yes, there are times when someone with Anorexia will feel pride (reaching a goal weight, running ‘x’ miles without fainting, someone else acknowledging weight-loss), but this is always short-lived because NOTHING IS EVER ENOUGH.
- People with Anorexia will study their reflection and obsess over the worst bits, or try to avoid mirrors and reflective surfaces at all costs. This is not self-admiration; it’s self-hate.
- Selfies were not a thing when I developed Anorexia, aged seven. I didn’t know what diets or calories were. I didn’t think I was fat or ugly. There is no evidence to suggest my Anorexia was anything to do with looking better.
- Just a handful of Anorexia side effects, aside from weight loss: tooth decay, hair loss (on your head, but it will grow on your back, tummy and FACE to attempt to keep you warm), dry, flaking skin, terrible circulation to extremities, eye bags, sunken features, bruising… the list goes on, but none of these are admirable.
- Messing around with/becoming addicted to laxatives and/or diet pills is NOT PRETTY.
- There is probably someone with Anorexia who you’ve seen at the gym or out running. They’re never the ones who take bragging selfies or have a palpable air of superiority – they would most likely rather be invisible.
- How can a person be egotistical or think highly of themselves when identity is completely overshadowed by illness? At its most powerful, Anorexia swallows up identities. There really is nothing to love.
- Part of some people’s view is that Anorexia is a modern illness that only affects rich white teenagers. Firstly, the first diagnosis was made in 1684 (long before cameras, televisions, size-zero models etc.) and second, it does NOT discriminate. There are accounts of Auschwitz survivors who went on to develop Anorexia, so the ‘anorexia being a result of our over-indulgent society’ just doesn’t work.
- Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all mental illnesses. It is a slow suicide, and ending up in a coffin really isn’t a good look.
Basically, if you’ve not had anorexia you will never understand it. I still don’t. So please, be careful what you say (or do your research first).