Navigating Thin Privilege With An Eating Disorder
Liv Woodward
234

Thank you for writing this.

I have long believed that those with eating disorders are viewed as martyrs or fallen heroes; those who “went too far” in the pursuit of all that is good and righteous and holy. Only the ones that involve starvation and result in thinness mind. Those who suffer with binge eating disorder are branded weak, greedy liars with no will power or self respect because, while their sickness is also written on their bodies, only the effects of abstinence are worthy of empathy or respect.

I loathe, as you must, the casual comments along the lines of, “too bad I can’t get a dose of anorexia”; the sheer stupidity of valuing a mental illness, or even death, as preferable to whatever body they have. I particularly loathe it when those bodies fall within the remit of acceptability/normality in the eyes of society. While living in a patriarchal, looks and celebrity obsessed culture doesn’t make it easy for a young woman to love her body, it’s a lot easier if society doesn’t keep reminding you that it’s your bounden duty to hate it. For all the rhetoric spouted in ladymedia, self acceptance® is not a level playing field in reality.

I recently read yet another “You go, girl!” exercise in vacuous BoPo twaddle on this very platform, only to discover at the end of it that the woman in question had somehow learned to love herself in size 10 jeans. The horror. I know I sound bitter and I am. Not because I haven’t learned to love myself in my size 20 jeans because I’ve been doing that pretty successfully for decades. But because the world doesn’t believe I have the right to and they never tire of reminding me of that. Society only high-fives those who struggle to love themselves while thin-to-average-sized because sexism and misogyny are real, while sizeism is at best laughable and at worst a fiction. Yet sizeism kills and wounds in ways both physical and mental. Fat people die from medical neglect, complications arising from bariatric surgery (aka The Easy Way Out), and from suicide. And it’s the reason EDs are on the rise in people of all genders and in children as young as five. It’s also the reason women struggle to love their size 10 backsides. If one type of body was not elevated at the expense of another there would be no benchmark to find any body lacking. But then where’s the profit in that?

So thank you. I wish more writers had your honesty, articulacy and generosity of spirit. You go, girl.