Eating Disorders are a “you” problem
That’s what America would like you to think. But who gets eating disorders? And what does it mean to be a problem in America?
W.E.B. DuBois speculates that to be black in America is to be a problem. Everyone has problems–this is a universal part of nature. But what DuBois says is radically different. He is saying that to be black is to have your personhood–your body, store remedy your very existence–be considered a problem. We have seen through extensive research that black bodies are considered dangerous, viagra buy bad, about it and are criminalized at higher rates than white bodies. We have seen black bodies be killed with impunity by America’s police officers. We have seen movements for the valuation of black lives be criminalised and compared to terrorist and hate groups. Being black in America is a problem. And America would have you believe it’s a “you” problem, just like they do with eating disorders.
Melissa Harris-Perry gave a thrilling interview at Stanford University with Solange Knowles, where she delved into what it means to be a minority in America based on DuBois’s speculation. We see time and time again how minority bodies are considered problems. Queer bodies are problems, so we outlaw their sexual practices and forbid them from marrying. Trans bodies are considered problems, so we don’t allow them to use the bathroom in public spaces, choose their identity, or even tell us by what name or pronoun they want to be addressed by–and we certainly don’t fund their healthcare. Immigrant bodies are a problem, so we completely criminalize any body deemed to be living here without official documentation as “illegal”. Women’s bodies are problems because they have boobs and periods and make babies, so we don’t allow them to be shirtless, they cannot breastfeed in public, and we have to prevent them from terminating a pregnancy at all costs, all while raising the prices of contraceptives and tampons. By any measure, being a minority in America is a problem. It’s not a problem that you have, it’s a problem that you are. America would like you to think it’s a “you” problem.
This is the reality so many of us live in. We see images every day of our bodies being disrespected, criminalized, trivialized, controlled, manipulated, and criticized, that it becomes practically inevitable that we begin to see ourselves in the same way. My road to recovery began when I started to see my eating disorder as a coping mechanism for this exact system. My body was nasty. My body was a problem. So I tried to make it less so.
What is critical for us is that we realise that we are not alone in being a “problem”. This realization takes power away from the system of oppression, because we can then create community, and speak out. Yes, I am a nasty woman! Yes, #BlackLivesMatter! Yes, #TransLivesMatter. Yes, Gay Pride! ¡Si, podemos! This Pussy Grabs Back!
Slogans like these are not just cute sayings, or fun hashtags. They are a rallying call for human recognition, for the basic human dignities afforded to everyone else. They are a critical moment for survivors who finally can look in the mirror and say to themselves, I am worthy! And though there are moments and days where we forget, where we find it hard to believe what we know to be true, we have communities of love to call us in and rejuvenate us. My eating disorder is not a “me” problem because I am not a problem. My body is not a problem. My existence is not criminal. I am worthy, and I matter!
This article is part 2 of a three part series I wish someone had given to me when I was struggling. What qualifies as disordered eating? Do black people get eating disorders? How do I talk to my family and friends about this? Do I even have a problem? Part 1 is recognizing the problem, and part 2 explores a side of the issue that even your doctor might not be able to talk to you about. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @jessicaellenn –and stay tuned for part 3 where we provide tips for dealing with disordered eating. #StopGlamorizingED
“I don’t think it will be THAT bad.”
“Just give him a chance.”
By now, sick these feelings are stirring in all types of think pieces, information pills op-ed pieces and protests (of note- the Women’s March taking place all around the world). No doubt, your family & friends are all talking about what this means for the world and life as we know it, because let’s be completely honest: this is a dramatic marked change to life and the world as we know it.
For those who cling to optimism? Some days I truly wish that I could bask in that feeling with you. Must be nice. However, I can’t. For the simple fact that this life as I know it: being Black, a Woman, the child of an Immigrant, a college student, needing and having to fight for my healthcare is in danger. Fear of real danger for my equally black, male siblings. Fear for my younger sister facing a new reality of healthcare as she tries to learn herself as a woman. Fear for my aging grandparents who have worked their whole lives to have money to live out the rest of their days in relative comfort, only to now be faced with the very real reality that everything they’ve worked for could be ripped away from them to line someone else’s pockets. I can’t be optimistic about anything and everything that has been presented to the people thus far. Nothing that’s been presented to marginal communities has been promising.
We’ve been encouraged to “wait and see” what happens by the media, by friends and family of other races that have never felt the full scope of everything that this is incredibly irresponsible and dangerous.
When you tell someone to wait and see, in effect, you’re telling them “just wait on the medicine you need to survive while the government figures out how much money to squeeze out of individuals.” You’re telling them “well maybe he won’t throw all the advancement made for women and their overall and reproductive health back decades. Surely he can’t grab us all by the privates.” He can. He and his cabinet through the medical care that women need and deserve, can grab us by our mentionables. No two women are the same, however, its starkly noted that women and historically disenfranchised communities will suffer the most. So, don’t tell us how to feel. Also, Planned Parenthood isn’t only an abortion clinic for those unaware. Such a small piece of Planned Parenthood even goes towards those services, but sure, use that one service to cover over everything else that Planned Parenthood does. Don’t tell us to wait and see. Take your fear of a few things being taken from you and multiply it by everything and you’ll get the sum of the devastation to those not in the same position as you. I’m just saying.
Stop telling us that we’re being dramatic and acting like we’re yelling about unicorns because you don’t see how they apply to your very life. STOP SPEAKING OVER THE COMMUNITIES. Social media is a blessing and a curse. A blessing in that I have been exposed and allowed to learn about the world through people from every level and walk of life. I’ve watched activists in real time, getting pepper sprayed and arrested while protesting this very thing at its core. Sometimes I don’t think that the people don’t understand that people will die. Actual lives are at stake here.
So please, please pay attention to what’s going on out here. Step outside of the bubble that pertains to you. The continuity of what’s supposed to be the country of promise depends on it. Check your optimism at the door and listen. People are afraid. Too much is at stake. Not on my watch.
Written by Aubri Elle