I think I've blogged on this before, but the recent uptick in "-orexia" terms in the news have me more than a little annoyed.

"Brideorexia" is defined by the Urban Dictionary as "When a bride goes overboard trying to get skinny for her wedding day." The dictionary uses the term in a sentence as: Damn, How did she get so f*cking skinny?!?! She came down with a case of brideorexia!

I get that the Urban Dictionary isn't the Oxford English Dictionary, but would it be too much to ask for a hint of accuracy and classiness? A woman isn't absolved of an eating disorder when a ring is slipped on her finger and she does shopping for the Pretty White Dress. Nor does the Pretty White Dress provide immunity from developing an eating disorder. It might be more expensive than almost any item of clothing she has bought before, but it's still just a dress.

"Drunkorexia" means that a person restricts their food all day to "save up" for the calories consumed during a night of alcohol consumption. Now, the comorbidity of eating disorders and alcoholism is well known and sadly rather common. But drunkorexia isn't the lone purview of sorority girls and frat boys at a kegger. Alcoholism and eating disorders can and do exist side by side. But this isn't particularly novel, and certainly not a "new" disorder. The struggle of those who deal with both EDs and substance abuse shouldn't be minimized by some cutsey name.

"Stressorexia" typically occurs when working moms get too stressed or busy to eat, and begin the cycle of weight loss and disordered eating. Stress is a big trigger for eating disorders, and I certainly see how stress and loss of appetite can lead to the beginnings of an eating disorder. But unlike several publications have observed, stressorexia isn't a "new" eating disorder. It might be a new cadre of excuses why you can't eat or don't have time to eat or why you've lost weight. It might be a new background against which eating disorders are expressed. But seriously? The stress/eating disorders link is hardly a new disorder, nor is it separate from any other eating disorder.

I'm not against publicizing a surge in eating disorders amongst working mothers, and certainly those women who will strive the hardest to be the "perfect" mom and employee will be the most likely to fall victim to an eating disorder. And there's a big difference between using stress as a reason to skip lunch and lose a few, and an eating disorder that may result.

We also have pregorexia, where a pregnant woman is afraid to gain the necessary weight for her and her unborn baby. It's described as "the pregnant woman's eating disorder," as if it's something to covet. A pregnant woman with an eating disorder is precisely that: a pregnant woman with an eating disorder. And women with eating disorders are not refusing to gain pregnancy weight out of desire to be like some thin celebrity; they're afraid to gain weight because of a life-threatening eating disorder. Someone who wants to stay thin during pregnancy might have issues, but it's different than an eating disorder.

There's manorexia, which is a man who is anorexic. Other than the presence of a Y chromosome, it's still anorexia. A male's experience of an eating disorder would be different than a female's, but that doesn't mean it's a different disorder. A 12-year-old girl's experience of anorexia is different than mine, someone who is nearly 30, but no one would diagnose her with "girlorexia."

Would they?


Julie said...

Great post - thank you for sharing your thoughts. I couldn't agree more.

"Brideorexia" - I just shudder at such an awful term and the inferred 'dumbing down' or minimisation of anorexia.

Alexandra Rising said...

There is one other I've heard and cant think of.
It's weird because while the individual with anorexia is starving themselves...the tanorexic or whatever-else-orexic is overindulging. It doesnt make sense!

Carrie Arnold said...


Now that you mention it, I think I have heard of "tanorexia." It probably didn't register since I go right from pasty white to lobster red with nary a transition. LOL

FuguSushi said...

"brideorexia" I do have to defend. Some of these women who suddenly switch into "must lose weight" mode 6 months or 3 months before a wedding are not people with eating disorders. Some of them don't develop eating disorders during their obsessive diets. Many of them let themselves go after the wedding. These are the women that buy a dress one or two sizes too small in order to look "her best" on her wedding day. You sometimes find them on asking, "OMG my wedding is in 3 months I must lose 50 lbs help me!!"

Often, they go on fad diets, look for quick fixes, all with the focus of fitting into that one dress they shouldn't have bought to begin with. Then, magically, the day after the wedding, all is well. Calories don't enter their minds again.

I find them a bit sickening.

You sometimes find them copying anorexic behaviors like they're some kind of wannarexic teenagers.

I wouldn't blame the term "Brideorexia" on dumbing down and minimizing anorexia. I would blame these dumb women who normally live a sedentary life style and only want to look fit for that "perfect moment". They're the ones that's making light of anorexia.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your wise writing! You just wrote what I've been thinking for such a long time! But well, let's just laugh at the ignorance of some people and make a new world "Sickorexia" hahaha "when you're so sick and u lose your appetite and get so skinny bcuz u can only eat soup and blah blah ah" lol

Anonymous said...

The time spent thinking up whatever new -orexia could really be better spent figuring out how these things fit into and go with existing eating disorders before slapping some name on it and calling it a whole new eating disorder. How are people supposed to take eating disorders seriously when there are all these jokey, attention seeking names? It make it sound like a game...

Katie said...

I came across a new one in the October edition of UK Cosmo - Unirexia. This would be when someone developed an eating disorder or had a pre-existing ED get worse after going to university. I relapsed horribly at university but my reaction to seeing the headline was an audible 'oh for f*s sake'. The other people looking at magazines in the supermarket looked a bit surprised :P

I really wish anorexia wasn't so fascinating to the media. It's an illness, it's dangerous and it ruins peoples lives, it doesn't NEED sensationalising to be horrific and shocking.

I Hate to Weight said...


Anonymous said...

very good post...while all of them i think apply to the control over an eating disorder they are all just subtypes of an overlying issue- the brain chemical imbalance in anorexia.

it is sickening the media gets such a kick out of such things

Anonymous said...

Also extremely annoying--referring to Kate Moss et al as "rexy" (blending anorexic and sexy.) ugh

Burden of Originality said...


Pay no mind to Urban Dictionary, as I contribute my own example of a horrific entry:


an emo who is belemic. some puke in 'secret' and others are uber annoying and brag about it all day.

bulemo over toilet:*pukeing*

bulemo to emo freak group:i just puked again...I'll be wearing those EXTRA skinny jeans in no know, those jeans that fit a pole.

emo freaks:*2 busy cutting wrists 2 care*

Anonymous said...

Gosh I so agree!! I am so tired of people throwing out these rediculous names like the diabetic one now and ugh everything else. It is just down playing the realy problems of real eAting disorders and making it that much harder to get proper recognition for help!

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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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