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Plus Size People Can Have Eating Disorders, too. Yes, Even Anorexia

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CW: This post discusses Eating Disorders and Fatphobia.

Society is wayyyy too obsessed with the pursuit of thinness, and that mindset is being forced on to everyone. It forces us (as a society) to see diet culture as the norm. We are punished for not aspiring to and actively working towards thinness. 

Everywhere you turn, there is a diet culture reminder. With that, are often messages that often assert that fat people are “overeating.” 

There Is No Such Thing As Being Too Fat for An Eating Disorder
Harmful messaging like this is unfortunately all too common

Fat people are automatically seen as binge eaters in society yet are also dismissed when it comes to an ED (eating disorder) diagnosis. Mental health professionals are not exempt from this mindset, either.

Much implicit bias training for mental health professionals specializing in eating disorders are not giving the proper tools and information on weight biases. The DSM-5 (DSM–5 is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States) does a lousy job of addressing weight discrimination as well. 

Imagine being fat and Black with an ED and visiting a professional who hasn’t had weight bias training, anti-racist training, and is unaware of their own biases against fat Black women.

A large amount of eating disorders in the Black community are underdiagnosed and unreported.

Eating disorders are multi-factorial, as we all know. Based on my experiences, which is my own clinical evidence, all forms of eating disorders are connected in various ways to weight stigma, which is rooted into our cultural norms.

Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, MD, FAED, F.IAEDP

The truth is, there are lots of fat people who suffer from bulimia, anorexia or binge eating disorders. 

eating disorders do not discriminate

Anorexia is not a one-size-fits-all model: it is so much deeper than that. We need to move away from the mindset that all anorexic people are stick thin, and look deeper.

Hope Virgo

It’s extremely common for people to dismiss that a fat person can suffer from an ED.

Yet, on the other end, people that show signs of restrictive eating disorders end up being celebrated for limiting their intake, especially fat people.

Why would society celebrate something like that? The answer is fatphobia. Restrictive eating is overly celebrated because of its association with weight loss. 

Last year, Tik Tok took a positive step and made a statement in a blog post announcing their ban on restrictive eating ads and related posts. 

As a society, weight stigma and body shaming pose both individual and cultural challenges, and we know that the internet if left unchecked, has the risk of exacerbating such issues, that’s why we’re focused on working to safeguard our community from harmful content and behavior while supporting an inclusive – and body-positive – environment.

TikTok

A Child Is 242 Times More Likely To Have An Eating Disorder Than They Are To Have Type 2 Diabetes.

These statistics are terrifying.

Many Fat People Are Underdiagnosed For Eating Disorders.

More mental health professionals should receive training on better serving fat people and actually listening to our concerns instead of being dismissive. The American Psychiatric Association needs to revisit the eating disorder diagnosis and make them less fatphobic. 

The truth is that there is no specific ‘look’ when it comes to having an eating disorder. And no matter what you weigh, if you are having a difficult time with either restrictive eating or binge eating – you deserve to get help. There are lots of resources out there that you can reach out to for more information or treatment. We will list a few below.

Learn more about National Eating Disorder Awareness week here.

Talk with a NEDA Helpline Volunteer here.

Need help determining whether you may have an eating disorder? Take an ED Screening Test here.

Find a support group here.

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Written by Amapoundcake

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3 Comments

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  1. wow, this is so true! i have a lot of fat friends with eating disorders and it even took me some time to realize i was holding these “norms” over the truth i was witnessing. it was hard to unlearn that but i’m glad i did. great article!

  2. Great article! You’re absolutely correct in that fat people and people in larger bodies can have eating disorders. The shame society (and individuals) attach your fatness only worsen their conditions.

    I’m glad to learn that TikTok does allow restrictive eating ads but I was reading today how a lot of content on TikTok is still triggering from “what I eat in a day” posts to before and after content after “juice cleanses” and “detox teas”.

  3. Thank you for shining the light on this widespread issue. I’m preparing to enter residential treatment for anorexia for the third time, and I have a very large body. Despite the diagnosis being listed in my medical chart, most medical providers (outside ED land) jump at the chance to tell me to eat less, exercise more, consider surgery, etc when my intake is less than what a toddler needs. Society pressures us to at least give the impression we are trying to be less fat, regardless of our health.
    Side note: one of the automated ads from Mediavine that popped up in this article offered a way to “burn tummy fat” (there are multiple things wrong with that statement!) so please contact your ad provider to filter out those kinds of ads.

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