It’s easy to tell when someone has a cold: They look miserable, with a runny nose, cough and maybe even a hoarse voice from a sore throat. We can physically see they’re not feeling well, but not all illnesses are as easy to see.
This is especially true when it comes to eating disorders. People living with these illnesses are often portrayed in extremes — like a skeletal woman with anorexia, or an obese binge eater. However, a new social media campaign championed by two young women shows that there is no one-size-fits-all look when it comes to eating disorders.
"Up until recent years, little to no light has been shed on the topic of eating disorders. With the increase of awareness has also come a very limited understanding of what it means to have an ED," Lexie Manion and Dani Appel wrote in a #FearlesslyFaceless post on Instagram.
Up until recent years, little to no light has been shed on the topic of eating disorders. With the increase of awareness has also come a very limited understanding of what it means to have an ED. Many educators and survivors neglect to mention the diversity in and variety of types of EDs that affect the population. Eating disorders can affect anyone - people of any background, race, gender, weight, age, etc. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There are many types of eating disorders, some being anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, EDNOS, etc. Each of these disorders affect each individual differently. And one look at the recovery community, and us sufferers see that we are not all the same race, religion, weight, height, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Yet, the stigma and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders continues to persist. What the world still assumes about eating disorders is that sufferers have a "face", so to speak - and that face is often depicted as a thin, straight, white, young female. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So we (Lexie and Dani) have created this campaign to address this issue. While we recognize thin, straight, white women do struggle with EDs, we would like to challenge everyone to show there is no "look", and to do this by NOT showing our faces or bodies. To participate, simply share this photo and caption why you're participating. The caption can be as simple as, "My name is _______ and I struggle with an eating disorder. I'm choosing to simply share this photo today to stand in solidarity with other sufferers. Eating disorder sufferers do not have a look, so I am sharing this photo & hashtag today, rather than sharing a photo or selfie of myself." And don't forget to include the hashtag! So join us in showing the world that it's impossible to assign a "face" to an illness that has many, many subcategories of diagnosis. Step into this idea of redefining what it means to have an eating disorder. We are fearless. And we choose to be faceless in our posts to make the point that one does not have to "look sick" to be sick. We are #FearlesslyFaceless (this is open to anyone struggling with mental illness 💜)
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"There are many types of eating disorders, some being anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, EDNOS [Eating disorder not otherwise specified], etc. Each of these disorders affect each individual differently. And one look at the recovery community, and us sufferers see that we are not all the same race, religion, weight, height, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc.," they continued.
The pair want to use the #FearlesslyFaceless campaign to show the diversity of those who suffer from eating disorders, but without actually showing their faces. "It’s impossible to assign a ‘face’ to an illness that has many, many subcategories of diagnosis," they added.
Both Manion and Appel experience the effects of the ideas that eating disorder have a certain look: Manion went through her own treatment for bulimia thinking she didn’t “deserve” treatment because others "looked sicker," she told Cosmopolitan.
Dozens of people with eating disorders have shared their own stories in the week since the duo started the campaign.
Love this!! @wearebrokenandbeautiful •••• I am #FearlesslyFaceless I have an eating disorder and I am on the high end of what doctors consider a "healthy weight". I have an eating disorder and eat lots of "junk food". I have an eating disorder and still love going to Taco Bell and getting the Cinnabon Delights. I am no longer emaciated, I no longer count my calories, I no longer weigh myself, I no longer purge or starve myself, but I still have an eating disorder. There is no way to look like you have an eating disorder. Any kind of body can have an eating disorder. Just because your body is not sick does not mean your mind is not sick. I am fearlessly faceless, because my eating disorder has no face.
"I have an eating disorder and I am on the high end of what doctors consider a ‘healthy weight,’" one young woman wrote. "I have an eating disorder and eat lots of ‘junk food.’"
YES!! @laurenae2013 ・・・ My name is Lauren, I'm 22 and I have an eating disorder. You wouldn't think I have a restrictive eating disorder because I'm fat. In fact, when I was diagnosed four years ago, I was diagnosed as Ednos because my bmi was overweight so I couldn't fit the diagnosis for anorexia (I've heard the bmi qualification has been taken away now). I post this in solidarity of everyone who doesn't feel like they're taken seriously when they say they have an ed. This is for all the people "outside of the norm" for eating disorders. For everyone who feels ashamed to admit that they have an eating disorder because they worry about being taken seriously. You deserve treatment. You deserve validation. You deserve recovery. #fearlesslyfaceless #eatingdisorderrecovery #validity #allbodies
"You wouldn't think I have a restrictive eating disorder because I'm fat," added another woman, Lauren. "In fact, when I was diagnosed four years ago, I was diagnosed as EDNOS because my bmi was overweight so I couldn't fit the diagnosis for anorexia."
#FearlesslyFaceless is eye-opening for people who don’t suffer from eating disorders, but shows those that do live with these conditions aren’t alone — and they are strong.
"We are fearless," Manion and Appel wrote.