Beating ED, eating disorders, overcoming obstacles, Recovery, respect, Uncategorized, women in the workplace

Love Handles

In recovery, one of the hardest things that I have to deal with are comments about my weight. People often mean well, but these ‘observations’ sting, every time with a newfound pain. For me, a part of my eating disorder revolved around other’s opinions. Sure, I purged for myself – desperately clinging on to any form of control, trying to achieve the perfect body. But a massive part of my ED was about how others viewed me. Did they think I was skinny? Did they see the massive whale that I saw in the mirror? Often, if someone would ever compliment my body, I would grab my stomach or bingo wings and exclaim: “What, you think this is beautiful? You need your eyes checked.” Or, I would say nothing. Blush quietly and smile, while the voices in my head twisted their kind words into hateful thorns, pricking me until I bled out.

I have recently started a new job. It totally revolves around teamwork and camaraderie; we all help each other to get the job done quicker. However, last night, something shook me so badly that I am questioning whether to go back. Many of my colleagues are romanian, and they often speak to each other in their language. Last night, someone told me that while I was working, one of my male co-workers called me fat. “Look at that chubby one. So cute.”

Now, to many, that sounds almost like a compliment. ‘He meant it as a joke! Don’t be so sensitive’. But when you have an eating disorder, being called fat, however said, can be absolutely detrimental, both to mental and physical health. I was in the middle of my shift, and I felt like my heart had been shattered with a sledgehammer, the sharp pieces injecting themselves in my lungs, cutting my breath short. I had spent almost three years in fear of this kind of comment. It had finally grabbed me by the hair, pulling with all it’s might. As I carried on my shift, robotic smile sullenly plastered on my face, I realised. As we work, we often give each other small touches on the shoulder or arm to show that we are there for one another. But where does this stop? The male co-worker in question had been squeezing my ‘love handles’, the small area of fat that just spills over my jeans above my hips, every chance he could get. Waiting in line for our orders. Behind the bar, making drinks. As he walked past me. A couple of times, these touches even went below the belt. I put it down to a friendly touch, to let me know he was there. The same way that I touched the girls in the restaurant. But it wasn’t. This comment, paired with the inappropriate touches, could have meant a month of starving myself. I could have run to the toilet and stayed there, making myself puke until I was numb. Or, the suicidal thoughts could kick in. It only takes one comment to send one spiralling.

I talked to my co-workers, who both said that they had experienced the same thing. We all decided to go to the boss, who handled the situation very well. I received an apology, but he will never understand how this will affect me. My superviser couldn’t promise me that he will be fired. I might have to see this man every day until I leave, and leaving now is not an option. Simply, I need the money. Even thinking about seeing him again is putting a lump in my throat. Seeing his best friend, who may or may not know about the situation (they speak romanian, remember?), who may hate me because I got her friend, someone who has worked there for fifteen years, sacked? Honestly, I am shaking.               The manipulation and control of women in the workplace is still happening in this day and age. This fact makes me sick. What makes me even more sick is that if I didn’t have my ED, I would have let the inappropriate touches go. Dismissed them. It was the comment that spurred me into action, and for that I am lucky. However, I now have to go back into work, somewhere that I no longer feel comfortable. Because of one man. Because of a touch. Because of a comment.

These comments, especially in the workplace, have to stop. These touches do not represent camaraderie. They are not nice. We don’t ask for them. We don’t want them. But how can we stop them? I am lucky that I had my co-workers by my side. Many don’t.

It is nearly 2018. When is enough enough?

eating disorders, media

Food For Thought


“For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an eating disorder: reverse anorexia. It’s when I look in the mirror and think I’m really skinny.” – Lisa Gopman

I read this ‘joke’ this morning when it popped up on my Facebook feed. The joke is currently published on the Comedy Central website, labelled under ‘funny jokes’. I’m not sure if I’m alone here, but I did not find this at all funny. In fact, I found it incredibly sad and hurtful. I re-read it about ten times, totally shocked at what my eyes were trying to register.

Seeing this immature ‘joke’ go into the world of social media with absolutely no repercussions angered me to no end. How is it possible that we live in a world where eating disorders are being joked about in the worst way? I shut it down, excusing it, saying it was just one joke. But as I watched an old episode of Family Guy, the same thing happened. I don’t really enjoy it, if I’m honest, but I’m ok with the fact that they seem to poke fun at touchy subjects. In the episode that I was watching, eating disorders were actually encouraged! A scene from season 6, episode 9 depicts a normal sized female character in conversation with a well-known Hollywood star.

James Woods: “Now, Meg, you want to be thin like all the Hollywood starlets, right?

Meg: “Yeah, but I love to eat.”

James Woods: “Well, I’ve got a way that you can eat all you want and look like a Hollywood starlet. Meg, let me introduce you to Mr. Pukey. Hiya, Meg.”

Meg: “Hi.”

James Woods: “Gosh, Mr. Pukey, you sure are good at making fat women hot. You think you could help out my friend Meg here? Yeah, I think I could give her a… hand. Now close your eyes, Meg, and let Mr. Pukey help you out.”

(Meg throws up)

James Woods: “When did Reese Witherspoon get here?”

At the time, I brushed over it. It was just a joke, right? But the real message later hit me; they were advocating bulimia. Intentional or unintentional, eating disorders are not a joke. The fact that these horrific ordeals are being joked about in this day and age is shocking; and even more horrifying is the fact that no-one has done anything about it. Raise all the awareness you like, aspects of society are still viewing mental health, eating orders specifically, as a joke.

I would force my fingers down my throat seven times a day, and would measure and restrict my meagre meals. This is not a joke. I was making terrible, terrible decisions that were disguised as normal. Again, I don’t see this as a joke.  This blog is not a rant about the dangers of the techno world, however, the fact that making yourself puke was seen as normal, as funny, made me believe that what I was doing was right; and I suffer from that naivety every day. One film that particularly struck me was ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. It is a fabulous film; a funny, coming-of-age tale about a young girl finding her feet in the fashion world, though she is a ‘size six’. However, there are many issues with this. Emily, for one, is blatantly anorexic. For those who have seen the film, Emily is the overworked PA of Miranda, the head of a fashion magazine. She is, effectively, the bitchy boss that everyone hates before we understand her job expectations. There is one point in which she explains her diet, claiming that if she feels like she will faint, she eats ‘a cube of cheese’. Not once is her warped relationship with food addressed – it is actually mocked.

In many aspects of cinema and TV, eating disorders as a whole are mocked. ‘She must be bulimic, she keeps going to the bathroom’, or ‘she looks great, but she needs to lose more weight’ were constant reminders that my non-existent relationship with food was alright, because everyone else did it. The feelings of fear and desperation that would run through my head every time my mum would offer me another slice were advocated, sought after. I was strong because I was skinny, because I worked hard to be pretty.

As a society, we must take action to stop eating disorders from being advocated; by mocking mental health, specifically in the ED region, this is what we are doing. Advocating a subject that not only ruins, but ends lives. Mental health is not a joke to poke fun at. For many people, mental health is a daily struggle, a battle with one’s self to leave the house, to eat breakfast, and for some, even to stay alive. It is estimated that 1 in 6 people in the past week experienced a common mental health problem. So why are we allowing big hollywood shows and movies to advocate and normalise mental health? I assure you, it is not normal to feel the way that so many of us do; it should not be normal in our society.