I am not an expert on the subject of eating disorders. The following is of my own opinions. I am new to writing and was never an English or literature major so my apologies for less than perfect writing skills. It is a practice. Names have been excluded to respect people's privacy.
I found myself reading a blog from a particular accomplished female athlete who has an eating disorder. Something I know a little about. I once dated an amazing person who has anorexia/ bulimia who would starve herself and eat foods with little to no calories. She is a very sweet and lovely person, we’re still friends nearly 20 years later. At the time her relationship with food became too much for her to continue to our relationship so our lives grew apart and recently have reconnected and remain as good friends. Can’t have too many good friends.
So, back to my point. An extremely capable female athlete has spoken openly about her eating disorder and it hit a nerve with me. See, she mentions about guilt, shame and media. I have a bit of a problem with how people live with shame and guilt, especially how the media only talks about it for headline sake. I hold plenty of shame and guilt, so I know how much it can eat away at you. Athletes, actors, etc are used on magazine covers to attract a certain image that they know brings in the dollars. Does it work? Heck yeah it works. Is it right? Fuck no, it’s so wrong. Does it leave many people feeling like crap because they don’t look that way and perhaps they should? What do you think?
I never thought about that a person feeling guilty about doing what they need to for their job, because they thought it was possibly sending a bad message of self image. Do models feel like they are sending out the wrong message about body image? This is their job after all, isn’t it? They knowingly walk the catwalk looking what is considered too skinny. Do they keep the weight off because it is required for the job or is there another underlying reason. What I am asking is “does the job give means to the eating disorder”? Does the model or athlete choose that profession because it provides a rational reason to be that skinny? Makes sense. I can see a person saying “you don’t understand, I need to control my diet for my job”. One thing is for sure, it is all about CONTROL. Will, something has control of someone.
Lots of people do things they don’t like for their job. Is being a certain shape simply part of the job or should the job or industry wake up and be realistic and more importantly humane. Is an industry that requires an unhealthy lifestyle abusive or okay? What about in the case of this super star athlete? No one will argue that being lighter weight has its benefits for the job. Moving less weight is an advantage. Even Nike founder Bowermen designed his shoes to be as light as possible. If all is equal except for the weight, lighter will win. And the job is to win, right?
My problem isn’t with what may be needed for the job and what may or may not be an advantage. My problem is with the shame and guilt. The real disorder to me is with those two things created as a response to how the media and society play us. This puddle of mind shit we all dip our heads into and create a world of sick people. NO ONE should feel shame or guilt for having a different relationship with food or anything else for that matter. And for those who would even give a little hardship to those who are living with this constant challenge with food and mental conditions are the ones with the real problem. To me those people are bullies. There should be no guilt or shame to it. People and the media should be there with open arms to support people who are dealing with mental issues weather it is with food, addiction or depression. I know this isn’t the case everywhere making it a more uphill battle. Anyone who is not comfortable talking about their relationship with food in my opinion should start talking about it right now. Get out there and start talking about it. Get a little comfortable talking about. Heck, I’ll talk with you.
Start sharing about it now. Too embarrassed? I’m giving a liscence right now to not give a fuck. Trust me more people will support you than you think. I see it daily. I don’t want to speak for the athlete who sparked this blog, but I would guess she feels so much better coming out and speaking publicly about it. I always tell my daughter she can tell me anything and it’s true. I am sure it wasn’t easy for that athlete and probably still isn’t, but good for her. She doesn’t just start races, she starts conversations, I greatly thank her for that. I know from my own experience it is much better to just give up control and not give a fuck. It sure beats holding it in and crippling yourself to the point of harm or worse.
I’ll be the first to tell you that I am not a weight or image export or psychologist. I am just a simple guy who thinks perhaps like my 6 year old daughter in simple terms. It is like running. Focus on that one step and then the next step and the next step and the next step, I think you got my point. Don’t get overwhelmed with the whole race or process of healing yourself. First step is to open your mouth...and speak. The words don’t need to come out pretty and they probably won’t. They just need to be heard. Trust me, there are people who will listen.