“I wish I had your strength. I could never turn down a cake.”
“I wish I could restrain myself like you, but even smelling pasta makes me gain ten pounds!”
“You are so good! How do you eat what you do and still look so skinny?”
We’ve probably all heard comments like these. Ones that glamorize eating disorders as a sign of strength, of near holiness.
And social media make “fat-talk” immortal. Click on any thinspiration, and you’ll see the glorification of restrictive eating or excessive exercise. Skeletal figures labeled with #thighgap or measly dinners that wouldn’t be able to satisfy a rabbit tagged with #perseverance or #cleaneating preach these disordered thoughts as religion. Even Pinterest or Instagram show pictures of decadent burgers emblazoned with “Pick up the burger. Now put it down. Good.” or images of girls on scales with “You will not regret getting skinny. You will regret overeating. The choice is yours.”
Meghan Trainor, singer of “All About That Bass,” has been praised for messages of body love. In an interview with Entertainment Today, she says she feels honored that girls suffering from eating disorders have found inspiration in her song. Then Trainor goes on to say:
“I wasn’t strong enough to have an eating disorder. I tried to go anorexic for a good three hours. I ate ice and celery, but that’s not even anorexic. And I quit. I was like, ‘Ma, can you make me a sandwich? Like, immediately.'”
Wait. Excuse me?
Demi Lovato, who has been vocal about her own struggle with eating disorders and self-harm, responded on Twitter:
Having an eating disorder doesn’t show “strength.” Strength is when are able to overcome your demons after being sick and tired for so long… Starving is not a ‘diet’ and throwing up isn’t something that only extremely thin men or women do. Eating disorders do not discriminate.
While singing about women’s natural curves and celebrating our unique bodies is great, we are sadly mistaken if we see eating disorders as a sign of willpower. People usually suffer eating disorders because of intense feelings of lack of control, not the other way around.
We need to educate ourselves about what eating disorders really are and their serious implications. Eating disorders aren’t choices. They aren’t diets.
They are illnesses, just as deadly as any other disease.
So, no, I’m not strong because I had an eating disorder. I’m strong because I beat it.
Fuel for Thought: What do you think of Trainor’s and Lovato’s comments? Did you find them appropriate or not? How do you define “strength”?