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SMU Daily Campus


Stop shaming people with eating disorders

Courtesy of Creative Commons
Courtesy of Creative Commons

F-A-T. One word, three letters and yet it seems to consume so many, especially women. Eating disorders affect more people each year and there are plenty of numbers and statistics to go along with this mental disease. But, there will be time for numbers later.

What about the thoughts numbers can’t quantify?

Like standing in front of a mirror not wanting to go out because you think you’re fat.

Like being afraid to eat in front of others because they might think you’re fat.

Like feeling as if you walk around wearing a giant sign that screams, “I’M FAT.”

Numbers don’t seem to count any of that.

But they do count when 91 percent of women on a college campus control their weight through dieting. 95 percent of those with eating disorders are between the ages 12 and 25. A quarter of college women binge eat and vomit, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. After looking at the numbers, it’s easy to think this is a disease the patient is bringing on willingly. So why don’t they just stop?

Just stop puking. Stop starving. Stop binge eating. Why can’t these women just be normal?

But, it’s not that simple.

No one wants to be the freak—no one chooses it. It isn’t as simple as just stopping. It’s about killing a beast. The beast that tells you, you aren’t pretty enough; you aren’t thin enough; you will never be enough. People suffering from an eating disorder fight their own personal beast. It’s with them wherever they go, whatever they do, and whoever they’re with. The beast comes too.

So it doesn’t help when the patient is blamed for the beast’s actions and the beast’s thoughts. It doesn’t help when the patient is shamed and yelled at. The patient needs ammo and armor to fight off the beast. Not ammo shot at them.

Eating disorders grow stronger in secret and in shame. Instead of blame, offer patients help without judgment. Those suffering from the mental disease, or know someone who is, can seek help from reading books like “Life Without Ed,” by Jenni Schaefer or professional help from dietitians, therapists and psychologists.

The SMU Health Center offers free counseling on many issues including eating disorders. But most important victims need the love and support of friends and family. They need love that isn’t condescending and support that isn’t smothering.

February 22- 28 was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. So let’s finally get the target pointed at the right place.

Don’t kill the suffering patient, kill the beast.

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