It’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week, so we thought we would bring you a whole bunch of super important stuff you need to know about eating disorders. Did you know that approximately 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder (Beat, 2020)? Well we think it’s super important that anyone going through something like this deserves respect and understanding, which is why we have decided to tackle the top 6 myths about eating disorders, and why they are wrong.
1) “Only girls get them”
Not true. Anyone of any age, race, gender, or background can develop an eating disorder. In fact, about a quarter of all people who get one are guys. Sure, there may be more girls that get them in the statistics, but that could be down to many things, including the fact people notice them more in girls anyway.
2) “They are because of skinny celebrities and influencers”
Sure, societal factors might play a role in disordered eating for some people, but not everyone’s disorder is caused by the same factors. Also, disordered eating can be caused by serious mental wellbeing issues that are much more complicated than looking at photos of slim people on Instagram. Again, these can be triggering, but not necessarily the entire reason.
3) “It’s only for attention”
A lot of the time, attention is the last thing on someone’s mind when they have an eating disorder. There can be so many reasons to develop disordered eating, but one thing is for sure: being desperate to be centre of attention is not one of them.
4) “You have to look a certain way to have an eating disorder”
This one is a big one. Eating disorders can literally come in so many different combinations that someone could potentially have an eating disorder for years without ever “looking like they have one”. In fact, it’s pretty likely that the numbers of people suffering with an eating disorder are actually much higher than we think, because of the number of people living with one that has gone undiagnosed.
5) “Only teenagers get eating disorders”
Like we said above, anyone of any age, race, gender or background can develop disordered eating patterns. Whilst the majority of those diagnosed are in the 14-25 age bracket (Anorexia and Bulimia Care, 2020), this doesn’t mean that these are the only people who can develop one.
6) “Eating disorders are a choice”
This last one might be one of the most important to remember, especially if someone you love is currently living with an eating disorder. They are absolutely categorically positively NOT a choice. Sometimes, when someone we love is living with disordered eating, their behaviour can change dramatically, and they can often be aggressive, withdrawn, or manic. This is their eating disorder talking, and they are not actually making these behavioural choices. They just might need a little help, and that’s OK.
If you need to talk to someone about this or anything else that might be bothering you, reach out to our community here for confidential support and advice.