This weekend my post about "pregorexia" and pregnancy weight gain guidelines ran on the homepage of Shine, prompting a steady stream of comments that reinforced how much confusion still swirls around the topic eating disorders. A few commenters dared to admit that their issues are serious enough that they don't want to get pregnant and face inevitable body changes. Responses to these confessions were filled with anger:
"Get off your high horse and start valuing what really matters in life--and it's not your looks!" wrote one commenter.
"Wow these shallow snotty little brats with no concept of reality or any sort of decency...They would rather pass up the miracle of motherhood than risk any damage to their young bodies(that I am sure have flaws but we wont mention those)last laughs on you! Your going to get OLD LOL have fun with that nutcases! Maybe you will miss out on being a mother you dont deserve to have a gentle spirit in your care anyway" another chimed in.
There was talk about self-centered skinny bitches, too.
Oy. Those who live with an intense fear of weight gain are not shallow nutcases. They are our friends, our family members, our colleagues. They did not choose to be trapped by thoughts that they will never be thin enough or good enough. And the reasons they have arrived at those skewed beliefs are complex, varied, and deeply rooted. They can't just "shake it off" or "come to their senses," but they can seek help and begin the process of getting healthier.
It is true that people who are obsessed with food and weight often say and do exasperating things (believe me, I've said and done my share in the past). As hard as it can be, we have to remember that their words and actions come from a place of illness. Judgment and harsh reprimands won't encourage anyone toward a place of health. Compassion and persistence will.
National Eating Disorders Association: Information for Family and Friends