Editors Note: Due to the sensitive nature of the topic and the personal information revealed in the story, The Hoofprint is publishing this story anonymously.
One year ago I lay on an unfamiliar mattress with scratchy sheets and blankets touching my skin. My nurse of the day shoves a thin tube down my nose into my esophagus and into my stomach. She tries to comfort me as I bear the worst pain of my life. During this moment I thought to myself: How did I get here?
The answer to my question came to me months after I left eating disorder treatment and truly started to mentally recover. A root of my eating disorder traced back to diet culture.
By definition, diet culture can be defined as valuing or expecting being thin and being society’s idea of beauty over mental and physical health. Diet culture told me that for me to be happy I needed to lose weight. These ideas were spread through people around me, TV commercials, books, magazines, and news stories. My ears filled with ways to get myself thinner in a supposedly healthy and harmless way.
The biggest trigger for my eating disorder was content surrounding quarantine weight gain. “Don’t gain your quarantine fifteen” still haunts me to this day. I came to the conclusion that I should “glow up” to impress people when quarantine ended.
My weight began to drop at an unhealthily fast rate. I looked like I was dying. My happiness and health were stripped from me. I would look in the mirror and audibly say “ick”, thinking I was overweight.
People close to me told me that I had “good discipline” and strangers seemed to praise me for restricting my food intake down to the minimum. The strangers seemed to like how I looked as if I was dying. Although it was an illusion. Looking back on it I have absolutely no idea how I didn’t die. Yet still, I was getting called pretty far more often than when I was happy and healthy.
This is what people need to stop. I wish people would stop getting told things about the rules of eating and “good and bad foods”. There is no such thing. My mind told me I was helping people when I would discipline my family members for eating certain foods or amounts. This is not something that needs to be commented on in the first place. It should not take a person to be hospitalized for them to learn this.
Everyone has to stop commenting on people’s looks, even if they are nice comments. Comments can be taken in any way a person wishes to take them. Disciplining yourself for how you look or what you are consuming is hurting yourself and others around you. Compliments that showcase who that person is beyond their appearance are how compliments should always be.
A stereotype about eating disorders is that they only affect teen girls. Eating disorders do not have a gender or size. People might never realize someone around them is struggling with their relationship with food. Always be aware of the warning signs that someone could be struggling. Family and friends trying to say the right thing and be supportive of who they love, please keep your comments to yourself.