What does an eating disorder look like to you?

A skeletal frame from every angle? This is the image that most people think of. And though most people would not be wrong, they also would not be right. An eating disorder can literally come in all shapes and sizes, so when people try to apply a “face” to an eating disorder 8 times out of 10 they will guess wrong and it’s by no fault of their own.

Society today has spent so much time glamorizing a single body type and equating our happiness to what we look like externally. Unfortunately, not only do they have it all backward, but what an eating disorder looks like has been fiercely stereotyped. Young/old, overweight/underweight, boy/girl it doesn’t matter. And the least recognized are the people who appear to be at a “normal” weight, yet are struggling in a way that the naked eye will never see. Because as much as there is an external struggle, the internal struggle is where the real killer lies.

The mind is a powerful tool that can easily destroy and build us up within the same thought. So the last thing we need is someone else telling us what we should or shouldn’t be in order to be accepted. The more we judge and put our own ideas on what is or isn’t an eating disorder, the longer it keeps those who are struggling in the dark. The shame and self-loathing we put on ourselves is enough to last a lifetime but add to that the glances, pity eyes and opinions of others and we are doomed to keep ourselves locked in forever. The biggest companions to an eating disorder are secrecy and isolation. They are that familiar friend that no matter what, is seemingly and deceptively, there for you. Except, they aren’t your friend at all, they are a lion in sheep’s clothing ready to devour you whole when you are most vulnerable.

Recovery can’t happen unless we as a society are ready and willing to let go of judgments and labels that keep us ignorant. We need to work to support and lift one another up, instead of trying to build ourselves by knocking others down. Or to decide this is what they should look, think, act and dress like in order to fit into a mold that someone else designed.

The life you seek and the love you deserve has to start on the inside first. You are not alone in this journey and freedom is possible if you are willing to see beyond the surface. Don\’t let others destroy the happiness you long to create for yourself. Don\’t let your size define who you are as an individual. And don\’t let opinions of others keep you from speaking your truth and sharing your story.

Victoria Magnus