Eating disorders are typically associated in people’s minds with women, and more specifically with emaciated young girls. Eating disorders are not things we think of ‘serious’ people as having. Those of us who suffer from them or have recovered from them often are quite secretive about it, and feel a fair amount of shame about the whole issue. Often, for busy and powerful feminist academics, having an eating disorder, especially with the attendant stereotypes and stigmas, does not fit our self-image. But there are a surprising number of full-grown academics of various genders and body shapes and ages who struggle with eating disorders. Often these struggles are life threatening. They are also very often invisible.
Facebook posts and unexpected blog entries about dieting, food restriction, and weight loss and gain are extremely and dangerously triggering for many of us who struggle with these issues, and may be alienating and painful for your fat colleagues. Posts that seek and/or receive wide social approval or sympathy around issues of weight and food restriction are especially triggering. These triggers are serious mental and physical health risks for many of us.
Of course we support everyone’s right to post whatever they want on their own walls, and to blog about whatever they like. It is impossible to avoid triggers altogether, and not our place to demand that the internet be safe for us in particular. But we ask you to think seriously before posting on these topics, and to take into account that these posts are difficult for more of your colleagues and friends than you know. We also ask you not to assume that someone who ‘looks normal’ will be comfortable with these issues. If you want to discuss and especially to celebrate dieting and weight loss, you might think about creating a restricted list for friends you know to be comfortable with the topic.
Much love to all of you and strength in all your complicated struggles –
Anna Bergqvist, Tiffany Cvrkel, Megan Delehanty, Fiona Maeve Geist, Tracy Isaacs, Rebecca Kukla, Whitney Mutch, Audrey Yap