Disorder Minus Diet Culture
It's no shock to anyone that the prevalence of eating disorders has gone up as diet culture has gained momentum. Often times, the two are strongly correlated. And it makes sense. There's pressure from all angles on both women and men to be "perfect" in terms of how they look and how they eat. Dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry because it feeds off of people's failures. Diets SET YOU UP to fail on purpose. They can also, more seriously, set you up for disorder.
What isn't talked about as much, though, is the fact that this is not the only cause/ propagator/ instigator of eating issues and eating disorders. It's the easiest one to label because it's the easiest one to see. But it's not the be all end all.
Eating disorders existed long before diet culture came about, and would still be there even if our society wasn't so obsessed with getting thin. ANIMALS can have eating disorders- and you KNOW that's not because they watched some show and want to look like the chihuahua in the magazine.
The DSM characterized anorexia as an intense fear of fat and gaining weight. I never thought I was fat. In fact, I'm naturally tall and thin. That's my build. Being "fat" was never a fear of mine and body image did not even appear in my ED until late in the game.
I was anxious. I am anxious. I have anxiety. I had surgery. I gave myself no credit for anything. I felt undeserving. I had a low sense of self-worth because of a combination of these factors. I obsess over numbers because of OCD tendencies. Eating disorders are also biological. Somewhere in my brain I am/ was wired differently- in a way where I was more susceptible to this ED I was a victim to. I imagine a whirlpool of causes and my 15-year-old self just getting sucked in too far to something that was bound to happen to me.
My anxiety physically manifests as a mile-a-minute heartbeat, a lump in my throat, and knots in my stomach. These knots don't allow me to eat. When I am anxious, food is the last thing on my mind. No thought of any food is appealing to me, and so I don't eat. And then the thoughts of being undeserving come in, and I don't eat more. And then my preoccupation with numbers comes in, and I count the calories I eat meticulously to be the same (low) number each day. And that helps to relieve my anxiety.
This is (what I feel comfortable sharing of) my eating disorder. And nowhere in this mess is even the thought of being fat. DSM u done fukd up.
An eating disorder is an illness. It's not a choice. It never is, never was, and never will be. My eating disorder did not stem from a diet. It instead was a physical manifestation of all the ish in my head that was going wrong.
I wasn't cured when I gained weight and started eating again. Attacking the roots of the deeper issues I struggle with was/is the only way to fight my ED demon.
The point of this post is NOT to illegitimize those whose struggles stem from body image issue alone, but instead to bring awareness to the fact that ED is not always about bodies/ media/ diet culture. The point of this post is to challenge the DSM (as if they'll see this LOL) and the typical definition of ED, because I know there are people out there like 16-year-old me, confused by their diagnosis and wanting more answers but not being able to get them.