Equal Time Fall 2019

Page 9

Behind the scenes of what eating disorders actually look like. Story by APRIL HlLL | Illustrations by SOPHIE HAUTALA

Warning: This article might be triggering to readers with eating disorders. Continue reading at your own risk.

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ovies and television have a long history of misrepresenting eating disorders. Netflix’s original series Insatiable, for example, suggests that the main character’s eating disorder masks her murderous desires (newsflash — eating disorders don’t usually create an urge to kill). This misinformation in the media often leads to discrepancies between assumptions about mental illnesses and their realities, which perpetuates harmful stereotypes. Eating disorders are not a choice. Contrary to what popular culture would have you believe, eating disorders are complex medical and psychiatric illnesses that are influenced by social interactions, psychology, and biology. For instance, a perfectionist personality can increase someone’s risk for developing an eating

disorder. Perfectionists may feel there is only one “right” way to do things, which can lead to restrictive dieting and other controlling, food-related impulses. Nina, a high school junior from Westchester, NY, has struggled with eating disorders herself and acknowledges that a big part of it is about control. “People may feel like they’re losing control, like moving or a friend dying, but they can control what they eat,” she says. “Everything else is out of control, but I’m in control of calories or the number on the scale.” Other risk factors include anxiety spectrum disorders (like generalized anxiety or obsessivecompulsive disorder) and having a family history of eating disorders. American culture is also notoriously obsessed with EQUALTIME | 7