Weight Stigma defined by NEDA is, “Weight stigma, also known as weight bias or weight discrimination, is discrimination or stereotyping based on a person’s size. Weight stigma also manifests in fat phobia, the dislike or fear of being or becoming fat.”
During my sickness and recovery with an eating disorder, weight stigma definitely played a role in me hating my body. I believed I wasn’t in recovery because I was in a bigger body. I have been diagnosed with both anorexia and bulimia in my journey with an eating disorder. I’ve had to restore weight and at other times in treatment, my meal plan was about maintaining weight. Been in both types of bodies: same diagnoses. However, no matter what body size I was in, I was still sick. Sure, I had to get the physical parts of the eating disorder under control with stopping movement, stopping behaviors, and appropriately nourishing my body.
However, the harder parts of recovery are working through the mental health barriers and the fear of what my body looked like outside of the eating disorder. I had to let go of the idea that controlling my weight allowed me to control the chaos in my life. I believed I wasn’t healthy if I was in a bigger body. I looked at people around and even professionals I knew were in recovery in the field, and no one looked like me. I assumed being in a bigger body meant I wasn’t truly in recovery. I believed this because on the other side of the spectrum culture judges being “too thin” either ideal or sick. It’s a fine line. What I have learned in my experience, is that bodies that are thinner can also be in recovery. This is due to genetics, the damage the eating disorder has done, and what our set point is at the current time. I’ve been reading the book Health at Every Size and it is mind blowing! I’ve believed so many lies from diet culture.
Here are two stories (and I have many more) where I have experienced weight stigma:
1. I was at the doctor’s office for my wellness check up a few years back. The provider said, “I know you have a history of an eating disorder, it’s binge eating disorder, right?” I asked why they thought I had BED? The answer, “because of your weight.” FACT: Individuals who struggle with BED can be in any size body. Individuals struggling with ANY eating disorder can be in any size body!
2. I lost weight and got praised for it, even when I was diagnosed with anorexia. It only perpetuated my eating disorder. End of story. Why do we focus so much on body size and why is losing weight praised in society? FACT: The diet industry is a BILLION dollar industry. Do you know why? Because, diets don’t work, and the diet industry knows you will purchase the next fad once your current diet stops and your set point raises. Think about it! Diet’s don’t work and aren’t sustainable. Your body needs fuel!
Oh and by the way…what does my body size have to do with me or anything else?
The body positivity movement has helped me see there are many people like me, in recovery, living our best lives, enjoying what we enjoy, are joyful, and are in bigger bodies. I love to run. I love to eat and try new foods. Each of these don’t exist in my life to cancel each other out. They both co-exist and happen when my body tells me to eat, to move, to sleep, to hang out, to recharge, and honestly my body is a vessel that contains and holds my beautiful, imperfect, and loving soul!