Eating Disorders are REAL Diseases

I'm a fan of The Onion. It's a satirical newspaper that pokes fun of damn near everything. Part of the humor is exactly what point their making, and how they use humor to make it.

There are spin offs, of course. Some give me the occasional chuckle, but most of them are piss poor attempts at humor, current events, and the combination of the two.

There was a recent article at The, an online magazine/newspaper/piece of utter crap, that was titled "CDC Issues List of Phony American Diseases." I found the article listed in the Google news at the side of the blog here.

At the top of the list of phony diseases?

Anorexia and bulimia.

I can't repeat my first response here, largely because my parents know of this blog and would probably wash my mouth out with soap. My second response was, "This guy must be a f*cking idiot!" My third response was, "I'd love to take him to an IP Eating Disorders Unit."

His reason why these were "fake" American diseases?

You won't find these pseudo-diseases where people lack food. Not one case of these two diseases can be found in Africa, India, Pakistan, Cuba, and in the Chinese countryside. These diseases come about as a result of worshiping at the altar of cultural expectations, ie; you do not see fat people in glamor commercials nor in soap boxes or shows like Desperate Housewives. Bulimia and anorexia are merely a return to the decadence of the Roman empire where purging was common place. Furthermore these two diseases are a badge of honor and status symbols and their rapid spread among the working classes can be directly attributed to nothing more than mass hysteria and the desire among dullard women folk to emulate their skanky Hollywood role models.

That this guy has definitely NOT checked his facts is clearly evident.

  1. Eating Disorders have been shown to exist in every country, everywhere. Yes, they are more common in Western countries because that's where they've been studied, and that's where the triggers promoting healthy eating and weight loss abound.
  2. These diseases occur in very young children. I don't know many 6-year-old boys who honestly give a shit about Nicole Ritchie. And yes, there are children that young with anorexia.
  3. Eating disorders aren't "about" anything. They're an illness. They're no more "about" anything than cancer is.
  4. Bulimia is NOT hedonistic. It's a biochemical imbalance. It's an attempt to self-medicate. It's an addictive process. See also #3.

That one random jackass says stuff like this in a desperate attempt to seem funny is annoying. I think what really gets to me is that he's echoing a lot of the beliefs that many people hold about eating disorders. That they're choices, that you have to choose to eat. That it's about celebrity worship and wanting to be thin. No one with anorexia starves themselves for a particular look. They starve themselves because not eating, losing weight, bingeing and purging, and even attempts to have the "perfect" body alleviate anxiety. These behaviors are about fear. Raw fear.

I want people to know that. I want people to see the suffering, not just of the horrifically emaciated cases that are broadcast on TV, but of every last person with an eating disorder. I'm tired of people being jealous of the fact that I have anorexia, that I have "willpower." That's crap. Like people with cancer have this amazing willpower to force their cells to keep dividing.

The author also talked about the waste of money on phony diet pills (which was the sole redeeming phrase in the article) for people who are "too lazy to eat less and move more."

Obviously, he has no more clue about the natural range of body weights in the human population, as well as the way in which diets fail people.*

Maybe this guy will pull his head out of his ass. Maybe he won't. I can't change that. But I can share MY truth, MY experiences. It's not about the weight. Seven years of starving IS a real disease. It causes real damage to your body. It causes a gap of seven years in your life. It causes bone loss, seizures, depression, anxiety, and a whole mess of things that I can hardly stand to explain. It can break families apart. It can kill you. A condition with a 10-20% mortality rate sounds like a real disease to me.

I'm not going to waste my time trying to explain this to the author. I've learned with family members that you can't reason someone out of an illogical position. And maybe he was just trying to be funny. I doubt, however, he would have said this about cancer.

Get a grip. Get a life. And do your research.

*People don't fail at diets. Diets fail them. Big difference.


Katy said...

I read the article. This guy's an idiot.

My first beef: learn to spell. It's VICODIN, not vicidin or whatever he said.

Second: not only is everything he says obnoxious, stereotype-promoting, trivializing BULLSHIT, it's not funny. It's not SATIRE if it's not FUNNY. You have to use some intelligence. Perhaps some wit. Say something new. Whoops.

Third: maybe this is just my reading, but the whole thing seemed kind of misogynistic. Anorexics and bulimics (~90% female) are empty headed girls emulating models, ADHD is a clever diagnosis to allow moms to shirk their parenting duties, fibromyalgia & anxiety disorders have significantly higher proportions of women...

(Oh wait, maybe THIS had something to do with the reason the article seemed anti-female to me: "...these [diseases] only exist in the minds of wealthy Hollywood prima donna glitter queens...")

Fuck him. And yeah, I get that it's supposed to be a spoof or whatever, but I think he actually speaks to the way a lot of people FEEL about "mental illnesses." People don't know that there are actual genetic vulnerabilities to these illnesses, that there are often structural and/or chemical differences in the brains of people with these illnesses, that it's NOT something you can just "snap out of."

And my ED is DEFINITELY not about the fucking media! There has never been one moment in my LIFE where I went, "aha! I want to look like a model!" I wanted a different body, yes, but it had jack squat to do with the media. I never read Seventeen or Cosmo or whatever, I don't think I ever watched MTV or VH1 until very very recently (and well into my ED) and even then I think I've maybe seen a cumulative 15 minutes. High fashion is not my thing--right now I'm wearing capris (basically sweats) from Old Navy and a well worn t-shirt that is 9, yes, 9 years old. I spent a semester at an Ivy League school before ED and depression took that from me. I'm not a bubble head. I've actually yet to meet ANYONE with an ED who's a self-absorbed superficial stereotypical empty-headed girl.


hungry for hunger said...

The fact that it's a parody, or satire, orfictitious won't make it hurt any less for him when I decorate my apartment with dents-in-the-shape-of-his-forehead.

Oh. And that wasn't an actual threat. That was satire. So of course it doesn't count as actually affecting people's feelings.

carrie said...


Yep. He's an idiot. The course of my ED sounds a lot like yours. In fact, you sound a lot like me. This could be good or bad. ;)


Just like the satirical plastic fork lobotomy I'd like to give him.

Except I don't know what good it would do as he obviously doesn't have much usable gray matter anyways.

Jeanne said...

Come on, carrie - a plastic fork? Those are actually sharper than plastic knives! It needs to be a plastic spoon.

carrie said...


Can we compromise on a spork?

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About Me

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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