How can you make others understand that restrictive-type eating disorders aren't about looks/vanity, and that we don't think they're fat?
Last Updated: 03/31/2020 at 8:50am
Collin McShirley, LMFT
Marriage & Family Therapist
I love helping people overcome challenges with food, depression, and anxiety. My work with clients is nonjudgement, supportive, and kind.
Top Rated Answers
You can't *make* others understand anything, but hopefully through a direct thoughtful response they can understand where you are coming from. Speak for yourself and your situation. If it's about finally having control over something, tell them that. Using your personal experiences will help them grasp the concept.
I've been a recovering bulimic for over a decade. It's not easy to have my condition diminished to being just about food. Eating disorders are not about food, it's about control. It's similar to treating addiction. Many people are ignorant of the fact that eating disorders are a mental illness and not about vanity. Refer them to the National Eating Disorder Association website to educate themselves on the complexities of various eating disorders. Hopefully they learn something and next time, they won't dismiss someone who has an eating disorder.
You do it the wrong way. First, please don't try to tell them look is not important, or they are not fat. Because they believe the look really is important, and they are really fat. Not only this belief, you can never make people to not believe in what they think they are right. Second, to help them overcome the disorder, is to make them confident in their appearance. Which mean to have better looking appearance. I.e : make up , expensive clothes, plastic surgery. You may think these above are too vanity But im pretty sure they will work.
It is actually pretty difficult to make people understand, when the media has repeatedly told us otherwise. However, "I" statements, as in "I feel bad about myself, because I feel...." make it less about them and more about you, which is what we wanted. If anyone suggests you think they are fat, just stop it right there and tell them that is not true. Tell them what you truly think about them. Honesty is your best weapon. Please take care and try to fight back your condition, you can do this, and we are here for you.
This kinda disorder is because of something more deep then the person thinking that they are fat. Its a psychological disorder and needs to be dealt with psychologically.
Lets be completely honest: reducing the stigma about mental illnesses is difficult. So many people have false assumptions because of the lack of knowledge. Tell them to read up on it or educate them yourself. The more people who are educated about mental illness, the less stigma there will be.
Some people are going to believe what they want to believe - the best we can do as a society is try to educate said individuals and let them know what eating disorders are about, and how to help loved ones with said disorder.
Most times I have noticed that people think that restrictive eating disorders are all based on self-image and a need to be "skinny". However, this is not true. Eating disorders have many causes: food-restriction is a coping mechanism after traumatic times, it is a way of gaining control in ones life or it can be a form of self-harm/punishment. It can be difficult to let people know/understand this, but by trying to explain that restrictive-eating is caused by *insert your personal reason* it can let others undestand and allow for you get to get people in your life to support you. The besgt way to help others understand is simply to engage in honest one-on-one conversation.
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