An Eating Disorder is More Than a Diet: An Open Letter to Samantha Brick
You will probably never read this. And that’s good. In truth, I’m not really writing this letter for your benefit, but for the women and men who may have read your recent articleand think dieting or obsessing over food and weight is the only way to be attractive. Within your post you state that,
I don’t believe overweight is ever attractive. Whether we like it or not, we live in an age and a part of the world where men and women regard thin as beautiful.
You also write that “[you]have no intention of letting my body slide flabbily into middle age.” In some ways I understand what you’re are saying. We do live in a world where thinness is seen as beautiful. We can not dispute this. However, anyone of sound mind would also agree that:
1. What is considered “thin” can be subjective.
2. What is beautiful can be subjective.
3. There are people in our society who do not find themselves attracted to thinness or mainstream beauty.
In fact, there are people all over the world who step out of the box and decide on their own what they deem as attractive, whether it be a tight torso, a nice smile, or a giving personality. You’re first mistake was in your assumption that all men and women hold thin as the ideal.
I will not lie: I respect that you have decided that you won’t become “flabby into middle age.” From a very young age I’ve heard women and men complain about their bodies, how they’ve “let themselves go” and all the other sayings that many are familiar with. Personally, while I don’t find negative body talk particularly obnoxious, the lack of drive of complainers to change the way they feel is. Like so many things in life, maintaining a certain physique can take work. And if your inclination is to keep your weight in check-fine. You won’t hear a complaint from me.
But honey lamb, your relationship with food is warped as hell. Surviving a summer on toast or eating mints and calling it a meal is nothing short of disordered eating. The joy you feel over your hunger pangs definitely bares resemblance to one having an eating disorder. Anyone who has or is in recovery from a ED knows this. They know what it is like to hold on to the ache of the stomach as a sign that they’re on the right track. They know how a stick of gum becomes lunch and how fainting or feeling cold or losing your period becomes a private badge of honor that they have not succumbed to the devil: food.
But that is a bullsh!t way to live! How can you not know this?
In your article you’ve made it sound like starving is a fun pass-time; something that anyone with sense should do. You’ve made it seem like men (or women) who condone this sort of behavior are worth having around, when in reality, anyone with real “self-respect” would avoid anyone who thought it was okay to measure someone’s worth by their dress size.
Eating disorders and disordered eating are not diets. They are not a one-way ticket to attractiveness. And I’m not talking about looks either-because we all should know by now that these disorders have many faces and a person can be thin, fat and in between and be afflicted with them. What I’m talking about is how EDs and disordered eating makes you inside. It makes you scared all the time; scared and lonely. These psychological issues make you afraid to walk through kitchens, attend Thanksgiving dinners, or feed yourself, even when you know it’s what you need. Being around a person with one of these problems suck. Watching a person destroy themselves is depressing. It’s also annoying and infuriating, because it’s not fun watching someone self-destruct? Watching and waiting as someone tries on outfit after outfit, getting stuck in the mirror for hours; spending money on food you know is just going to be thrown up? Doctor visits, weigh ins, scarred knuckles and a ruined digestive system? The continuous thinking about food, what you ate, what your didn’t eat, how much you weigh, how much you can lose in a week… Not really pretty at all, Ms. Brick. In fact, it’s ugly.
It’s also sad, because when you look at the shit in the world, like the bombing in Boston or the horror that takes place daily in the Congo; when you look at everything else that is happening, you have to know that the world is a lot bigger than staying “svelte”. And while I completely understand the desire to remain attractive, it’s sad that that’s all you think you or any other person has to offer. I’m completely repulsed that you think it’s okay to hold up your fucked up relationship with food as something other people should mimic. It’s irresponsible and disgusting. You being annoyed with your friend for bringing you a gift of chocolate? Well would you have preferred if she brought you a box of Ex-Lax? Come on, Sister! Wake Up!
Food is fuel. You’re body needs it like it needs air or sleep. In my studies I’ve learned that choosing the right type of fuel can not only energy, but also the vitamins and minerals it needs to perform and fight disease. It also tends to make you look better, because when you are not malnourished your hair is shinier, your skin clearer and more bright. Your body is less inclined to hold on to what it doesn’t need, whether it be fat, waste or excess water. In short, by not fueling your body properly you’re really screwing yourself inside and out.
Like I said, I don’t really expect or even want you to read this. What I want is for any girl or boy, man or woman who finds themselves falling in line with Ms. Brick’s thinking is to get help. Having an ED or being a disordered eater is horrible, but it’s NOTHING that you should be ashamed of. There is hope. I know this from personal experience. Be skeptical of anyone who promotes self-harm and calls it “discipline.” Starving, purging, obsessions…these are nothing more than products of fear and desperation. You don’t have to live like that. No one does.
So in conclusion, Ms. Brick, I hope you do get help. I hope all the “men” that you cite in your story contact you and encourage you to speak to someone about the real issues that are eating you. And of course, to everyone who thought there was any truth to what you were saying, I hope they know better now.
Creator of Fit is the New Black