5 reasons to date a girl with an eating disorder….did I seriously just read that?!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

‘5 reasons to date a girl with an eating disorder’- are you serious?

An article that opens with a graphic photo of a young woman with her head down a toilet and her fingers plunged into her throat was never likely to be high class journalism, however, as I continued to read the article published on ‘return of kings’ and then went on to read some of their other ‘posts’, I truly believed it was some idiots attempt at tasteless satire. Alas, apparently it is not, and the guy that wrote this really, truly thinks his points are legitimate. All I can say is, he has clearly never dated a girl with an eating disorder.  To be fair, neither have I, but I have been the girl who quickly deteriorated into severe anorexia nervosa during a serious relationship with one of the most loyal and patient men I believe to be out there. Sadly, it all became too much for both of us, but I can quite definitely say, that no part of his list is correct. In fact, even before he starts the Goddamn catalogue he gets his facts wrong.

Nothing screams white-girl problems louder than a good old-fashioned eating disorder.*”

Yes, you read that correctly, he quite honestly began his ‘article’ with that statement. I find this offensive on so many levels. There is a stereotypical image surrounding eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa. That of a privileged Caucasian female with nothing better to do with her time than starve herself. I thought society had moved on from such generalizations, but clearly, there are still some trolls out there who are still living in a World where labels and discrimination are ok. I am writing this response from an inpatient Eating Disorder Unit. I can quite honestly say that the only blanket statement that can be made about all the patients under this roof is that we all have an abnormal relationship with food. Obvious-right? We have both men and women among us. We have patients ranging from 18 (we are an adult unit) to over 60. We have patients of many races and nationality’s; different accents bounce around the dining hall, expressing terror and hilarity in equal measures. We have people of hugely different socioeconomic backgrounds, This all matters. Eating disorders are by no means a lifestyle choice, similar to where you choose to holiday or what car you drive, they are slow torture, not only for the patient, but for all those who have to watch a loved one commit slow suicide. Suggesting otherwise belittles the issue and makes it farcical, well, you know what ‘Tuthmosis’, spend a week battling continuously with yourself, having to force your mind to allow you to eat, even if it’s just enough to keep you alive. At that point, you can tell me if it is still a problem to be ridiculed. Wow-what a rant, and I’ve only covered the first sentence. Don’t worry, I wont go on in this manner, I do plan for this all to have an ending.

His first point, that if your girlfriend has an eating disorder, her preoccupation with her looks will improve her overall looks. It is this statement, which suggests to me that that the author is either deranged, perverted, or does not actually realize what severe anorexia looks like. I have a strong group of loyal friends, many of whom are male, and every single one of them has told me, in a variety of ways, that since I developed anorexia, well, I kinda look like shit. None of  them have actually been quite that brutal, they’re nice young men, but I have been continuously reminded that I have lost all sex appeal. And they are most definitely right. I do not starve myself to achieve an attractive physique, nor to get more male attention. The suggestion that an anorexic body does either of these is offensive to both men and women. It suggests that all men are depraved ass holes who expect their partner to abuse her body and slowly commit suicide to please them. It also, once again, trivializes and belittles what is, a serious illness. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate among all mental health illnesses. If what men truly want is an emaciated, miserable, bag of bones, then I’m stopping the search for love now. My loyal ex had to suffer having a girlfriend who became less and less interested in how she dressed, making herself attractive, became progressively more frail, withdrawn, and quite genuinely a husk of her former self. I can recognize this, even now, whilst I am still stranded in the talons of anorexia, yet I cannot get away. Surely, if it were an illness of vanity and appearing attractive to men, I’d have started eating the damn cake when my wonderful boyfriend expressed his distress over my fragility. I couldn’t though, because it is an illness. An illness I fervently wish I did have the ability to just  ‘switch off’.

He then goes on to assert that a girlfriend with anorexia costs less money. Again, I’m going to be difficult and disregard his belief as foolish. Yes, when it comes to eating out or ordering a takeaway, one may think that a girlfriend with an eating disorder may be cost effective, but for me, the reality was, although the amounts I would eat were miniscule, my food and drink costs weren’t that minute. Why? Well, there were only a very small amount of select food and drinks that I would allow to pass my lips. Each of these were completely non-negotiable and could not be substituted for even a different brand. And the thing is, when you are so absolutely desperate for someone you care about to eat, you will go to any length to make sure that the right produce was purchased. For example, I went through quite a long phase of only really eating raisins. This was even before I had been officially diagnosed. Although, some may argue that this goes with the idea that I was ‘cheap to keep’ in comparison to a girlfriend who loved going out for expensive meals of sushi, the time and effort that went into ensuring that my correct brand of raisins were always available definitely did not make me a cost effective girlfriend. On top of this, the equipment needed for me to eat, food scales, measuring jugs, certain cutlery etc was again, not cheap. And when you are tearing your hair out watching someone slowly waste away, you will get anything if it helps them eat. The amount of money spent on coffee alone (black with candarel tablets) at certain extortionate coffee establishments more than made up for any money saved on dining out. When things were going through more manageable stages and I did feel able to go out for dinner, we usually ended up ordering numerous dishes, so I could examine them upon their arrival at the table and choose which seemed to be the most manageable. I needed to see the food before I ate it to ensure that there didn’t appear to be oil permeating the dish or, God forbid, any butter or cream involved in the mix.

If you are not yet convinced that dating someone wrapped up in an eating disorder is not an attractive option, then I ask you to question the next point. ‘She’s fragile and vulnerable’. Yes, this is true. It is not uncommon for people to feel protective over their loved ones, however, there is a huge difference between defending your partners honor and the worry that comes when dating someone with an eating disorder. When was the last time you dreamed of sitting by a hospital bed, holding the hand of a shadow of your former love as they lie, delirious, starving and dehydrated, attached to a drip and a heart monitor with a slowly dropping pulse? When did you last hope to be hoping to feel it necessary to wake up through the night to check the person lying next to you was still breathing and still had a pulse? Yes, I am a fragile and vulnerable young woman, but no way should this be seen as one of my attributes when it comes to me being a potential girlfriend. Any man who saw it as a benefit is sure not one I would ever like to become involved with.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin with the next generalization, so I will not draw out the point, as I have covered it earlier. ‘She probably has money of her own’. Yes, I am lucky enough to come from a privileged background but this is not a blanket criteria for anyone effected by an eating disorder. The socio-economic background cannot be restricted to any group. Eating disorders are not just an illness of the privileged, they effect people all over the World, even those in severe poverty, just like any other mental health illness. Yes, there does seem to be a prevalence among those who are labeled ‘high achievers’, but surely this cannot be limited to only those with moneyed backgrounds? We should not be so snobbish as to assume that only those over a certain income bracket push themselves beyond their limits and expect ridiculous things of themselves. Even if it were the case that only the wealthy got eating disorders, who the hell really wants to be with someone who loves them for their money?

So, the final point, the pinnacle of a foolish piece….’she’s better in bed’. Right, I’m not getting into personal or graphic details, but to me, this clearly demonstrates that Tuthmosis sure has never dated a girl with an eating disorder, because you know what? No food equals no libido. As anorexia dug it claws more deeply into my brain, any interest in normal teenage sexual desire left me completely and, even if it hadn’t, who the hell wants to jump into bed with a bag of bones? My boobs have gone and my pelvis juts out unattractively. I find it difficult to be naked by myself, let alone in front of another. His generalization that ‘crazy girls are better in the sack’ is just, well, sick. I look about my current surroundings as I write this. I am in a room of both men and women following a meal on my inpatient unit. Most are asleep, or look so wired and agitated they seem to be barely present in the room. Many, you can tell, were once exquisitely beautiful, however, anorexia has robbed them of this. I can quite confidently say that I doubt any one of the 14 emaciated patients in this room are dreaming of their next adventurous sexual endeavor. We are all too preoccupied with worry over the breakfast we are currently digesting.

With this, I end this ramble, objecting to the ever sick argument for dating a girl with an eating disorder. No man, or women should encourage their loved one to develop an eating disorder and in my opinion, if they do, they deserved to be locked up with any perverted person whom yearns for minors. The body of an anorexic is that of a child. Hormones stop, and with it, any signs of puberty ever having occurred disappear. So, by all means, if your type is a man or woman with no self confidence, no energy, an abundance of neurosis, a skeletal figure that is not dissimilar to that of a holocaust victim and absolutely no sex drive, then go for it, search for that special someone with an eating disorder. I will say now though, if that is you, then you yourself are probably more disturbed than the skeleton you so desperately seek. Just ask my ex, who fell in love of a vivacious, sexual young woman, and had to let go, after 2 years of fighting along side me, of an emaciated and exhausted skeleton, because the girl he once loved was no where to be seen.

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