Skip to main content Skip to bottom nav

Why don't people understand that you don't have to be skinny to have an eating disorder?

20 Answers
Last Updated: 04/27/2020 at 6:04am
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Alex DS Ellis, MA, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

Feeling depressed or anxious can be so overwhelming. I want to help you feel better and be able to enjoy life. You are not alone and you deserve emotional support.

Top Rated Answers
February 9th, 2016 2:59pm
It's a common misconception.. I'm sorry. I, suffered from anorexia, then bulimia, then binge eating disorder and then now EDNOS because I go from starving to bingeing then to purging and some days just starving etc. My weight has gone up and down .. then up again and then down. It's annoying that people don't get it. Sometimes it makes you feel as though you are not sick enough.. need to be sicker to fit the diagnosis. But please understand that this is just a misconception. Weight in itself is just a number on a scale.. don't let it define you.
February 28th, 2015 9:08pm
It's the most common type and people tend to ignore some people over eat for comfort which is a form
April 28th, 2015 1:22am
People in todays time have been told that a eating disorder is where you eat way to much and has been uneducated on the true side of the issues
May 9th, 2015 6:38pm
Society has created a stigma surrounding eating disorders, and spread the misinformation that anorexia is the only eating disorder, and only matters if the person is skinny. Eating disorders are dangerous in any aspect, and they are a mental illness, becoming thinner is just a symptom of some eating disorders. Sadly most people don't realize that.
June 4th, 2015 11:34pm
Well... unfortunately, some people are too ignorant to understand that even if you try to tell them.
June 22nd, 2015 9:47pm
Most people believe the stereotypical eating disorder look such as unhealthily thin, bones showing. In all reality people who are different weights and body shape can get an eating disorder.
August 3rd, 2015 12:34am
Because honey, people are idiots. People say things to hurt other people, people betray other people's trust, and people judge and jump to conclusions, I hope you've told an adult if you have an eating disorder, and I hope you're doing okay too, everyone loves you and I'm here, you're beautiful!😊
August 3rd, 2015 1:45pm
A common misconception about eating disorders is that those with them are very underweight. Typically, the people who believe this don't have experience with or around people with eating disorders.
August 24th, 2015 9:26pm
Most people see the pretty side of mental disorders. The thin girls, with cuts on their arms, who throw up over a toilet and cry. But it's not pretty. There's nothing great about it. But people associate thinness with beauty, and they mostly see people who have eating disorders as thin. It's what most people see, so it's going to be more thought of.
September 14th, 2015 5:44am
Unfortunately, the cultural stereotype of an eating disorder is the one that most people think of. Most people don't have a lot of personal experience with an eating disorder so they go to their most immediate frame of reference: pop culture. If you know someone who is having a hard time understanding that eating disorders don't necessarily all look the same, one of the best things that you can do is simply give direct examples and explanations of what an eating disorder really is, underneath all the stereotyping.
April 12th, 2016 3:05pm
Stigma. All they know is that eating disorder equals skinny, skinny equals eating disorders. They don't know that some eating disorders started when the sufferer is at normal weight or even overweight,
May 4th, 2016 4:36pm
Well, I can't answer for everyone, but I think it's because a lot of people have stereotyped eating disorders so much that they instantly imagine a severely underweight girl. (Which is completely just a stereotype, boys can have eating disorders too.) A lot of people don't realize that eating disorders can also come in forms such as "binge eating disorder", which actually is more likely to make someone obese. Bulimics usually (but not always) tend to be normal or even slightly overweight. This is because they binge AND purge, and a lot of the calories are still digested. But the act of purging still causes great damage and is very dangerous. When it comes to anorexia, a lot of people imagining someone who is already at a normal weight (even slightly under) and starving themselves, making them look skeleton-like. But anyone at any weight can develop Anorexia. I'm going to share a bit of personal info here, but I want you to know that I'm now healthy and recovered. One year I started at 200 pounds (I'm only 5'2) and in less than a year I got down to 115. I probably was around a healthy weight for my height and age at the time, thus no one who'd meet me for the first time suspected anything. But the people around me saw how I shrunk, and they were very worried. Really someone could start at 300 pounds and end up at 200, still being overweight, but if they're behaviors to reach that weight still matched the restriction of food and whatnot it would still be anorexia.
June 14th, 2016 6:52pm
Becuse media made it that way. you can be at a normal weight but hate it and also want or feel the need to starve youself or eat more and people ony beleive what thy see
November 14th, 2016 11:45pm
People are visual and most of us don't understand what is going on inside a persons head. Eating disorders have been portrayed in a particular way in the media, and frankly, the only answer is that they don't know better ! :( treat them with compassion and treat yourself with compassion. Hope this helps
January 3rd, 2017 1:01pm
People are customed to think of stereotypes when it comes to eating disorders and when these eating disorders are represented to them, it is the end result of anorexia, or the end result of eating disorders that people see. Nobody thinks about what they may have looked like when the eating disorder started. You don't have to be at an extreme weight to have an eating disorder.
February 28th, 2017 7:56pm
There is currently a lot of stigma surrounding eating disorders. A lot of people do not realize that an eating disorder is a mental manifestation/ behavior and does not always present itself in a physical form. Many people think that it is always the extremely thin people who have eating disorders when that is not the case. Eating disorders also range further than just anorexia and bulimia. Binge eating disorder and compulsive over eating are also eating disorders that would not necessarily cause a person to be very thin. However these disorders are usually brushed aside and forgotten about because of lack of understanding.
May 29th, 2017 6:01pm
Associating pre-information with a rational mind gives us ability to judge correctly. people are often fed common pictures by the media and adverts for marketing purposes best suit the target market. Thus it is common incorrect pre-information with a bulged figure to having to much food and vice versa. let people have the facts they will learn to judge correctly. I am with the people in this case. Defending their right to know the TRUTH about something and others should come forward to stand against gross marketing policies.
June 19th, 2017 10:47pm
For so long we've been shown pictures in the media of thin people, and we've associated these pictures with the normal body type. Normal body types, and more importantly health body types, come in all different shapes and sizes, and anything that doesn't fit their perceptions of unhealthy is wrong. However, they're not medical professionals, and more importantly they're not you, and getting the help you need, and the help you deserve can only be though those who care about you and your well being.
March 23rd, 2020 2:17pm
One of the most common eating disorders is anorexia, which is the eating disorder where person tends to become very very skinny to the point that it is unhealthy. While there certainly are other eating disorders, most people aren't as educated about them as they are about anorexia. So many people identify an eating disorder with being skinny because that is all that they are educated about. They do not realize that there is an eating disorder that is just the opposite where ther person has a tendency to eat large quantities of food. These people tend to be overweight. In my opinion people don't understand because they are not educated on all eating disorders.
April 27th, 2020 6:04am
Peoples perception of what skinny is and eating disorder means if you are overweight theres nothing wrong there are all types of eating disorders i know from experience at both sides losing weight on purpose and making myself sick from overeating i suffered from age 10 and eventually had therapy it helped me so much there are times it has reappeared in thoughts under stress or major changes in my life but i learnt how to deal and cope better from past experience and therapy today i havent had further episodes of starving myself or making myself sick it was very hard to face it i was in denial at first then i accepted it and looked at my underlying issues about myself how i see myself and why i did have bad relationships where i was called bad names and in childhood something traumatic happened working through the layers of this the stress and triggers i began to understand it and myself.