Not Everybody with an Eating Disorder…

Eating disorders are hugely misunderstood, and there are many, many misconceptions that are best ignorant and at worst deadly.

I realise, as a white, intelligent, young female who has struggled with restrictive anorexia and subsequently been very underweight, that I have had far fewer barriers to treatment than the overwhelming majority of sufferers who do not tick any or all of these boxes. However, I do also know how it feels to be turned away from treatment and have my symptoms invalidated before I have reached crisis point, and I feel very strongly that we need to, as a society, change our perception about eating disorders.

In order to do this, I asked across my social media platforms what myths people want to see challenged, so that we could help to spread awareness and challenge these misconceptions.

Here are some of the answers you came up with:

Not everybody with an eating disorder…

…is underweight
…is white
…is female
…gets treatment
…admits they have a problem
…doesn’t eat
…knows they have one
…is taken seriously
…eats only vegetables
…looks as though they have one
…fits into a specific category
…is a teenager
…is focussed on weight loss
…is self absorbed
…is vain
…is the same
…wants attention
…has body dysmorphia
…talks about it
…wants to be thin
…needs the same kind of treatment
…changes in physical appearance
…recovers at the same pace
…has either anorexia or bulimia
…has it forever
…goes to hospital
…hates food
…is wealthy
…knows why they have one
…asks for help
…over exercises
…takes laxatives
…thinks they are fat
…who is overweight has binge eating disorder
…has a diagnosis
…is controlling
…is manipulative

As you can see symptoms of eating disorders can vary drastically between individuals and different diagnoses, which inevitably impacts the treatment they then go on to receive. So many of you responded to this question and the most common answer you gave was about not being underweight. This is hugely important and is an issue many of us are trying to tackle day in, day out. I hope that by sharing some of these answers with you all that it goes to show how different people’s experiences of eating disorders are, and how far we still have to go in terms of challenging those stereotypes.

I’d love to hear any other things you would add to this list.


  1. …. is young, …. has few responsibilities
    I’m a middle aged mum and struggling with an ED. I’ve always pictured people suffering to be young, slim women, with no many responsibilities. It’s taken me a long time to even admit to myself I suffer from one. Thanks for an great post

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m being faced with explaining this to my family. Luckily my therapist said to leave it to her and just worry about myself, because let’s be real, I’m having a hard time grasping it. I’m staring either PHP or IOP in the face and during the 3 weeks I have to wait for my assessment (thank you COVID and holiday season) I’m driving myself crazy with trying to decide if I actually “qualify” since I’m not a stereotype. (spoiler alert – I do).


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