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The 'Socially Acceptable' Eating Disorder

Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

My eating disorder.

Not the extreme cases you think of. Emaciated girls like those portrayed on the TV, or the ones from “To the Bone,” because we all have read the hundreds of opinions from hundreds of sources with thousands of opinions on the veracity of this show.

My eating disorder is not only more socially acceptable, but even praised and sought after. This one is prescribed from doctors. Set as New Year’s Resolutions. Given shirts as a trophy for finishing.

I am praised for going to the gym at 5 a.m. Standing outside waiting for the door to unlock, as if it is a Black Friday sale. Justifying what I eat by the miles I have accomplished, or the reps I have completed. I am rewarded in the unsolicited, unwanted looks of strangers, Or co-workers who ask me, “How do you stay so skinny when you drink stuff like that?”

No. See, it is acceptable to be at the gym every day.

Unlike my past self, it is not acceptable to take laxatives, diet pills, or resort to purging. The gym though, that is perfectly normal and acceptable in the eyes of everyday people.

On the outside, it doesn’t look like an eating disorder, instead it looks like the “self-control” people “wish they had.” My hope, I fear, is that I believe that with each rep, my eating disorder will leave me in those beads of sweat pouring from my forehead and back. That the anger and disgust will dissipate with each additional pound I add to the bar or each additional incline I add to the treadmill.

Yet, if I was purging every day and I told you about it, your response wouldn’t be, “I need to get back into doing that.” Or, “That sounds great, bet you feel better in the morning.”

You don’t see my internal calculator adding calories, then the calculation from calories to miles.

You see a person dedicated to getting stronger and healthier. That is true. I ache for that more than anything. There is a very thin line for me from working out in a healthy way, to the extreme.

The unwanted praises are nothing but wood in the fire of my eating disorder.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Unsplash photo via Bruno Nascimento