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This is how not to write about disordered eating

Leave ‘hotness’ out of it.


Jaya Saxena


This article contains descriptions of disordered eating.

Reddit user lucyffer recently took to the website to post about her ongoing recovery from anorexia. She describes how she still struggles with body image issues, but feels healthy and happy thanks to some lifestyle changes. Her post concludes with asking anyone struggling with anorexia to reach out to her for help.

BroBible took her story as an opportunity to declare that she is now “smoking hot.”

The BroBible piece frequently stumbles when it comes to reporting anorexia, comparing lucyffer to others struggling with disordered eating by saying she now has a healthy relationship with food “unlike some recovering anorexics,” and choosing to focus on her before and after photos.

The Daily Dot has reached out to the National Eating Disorders Association regarding this matter. President and CEO Claire Mysko explains that, while a dialogue about recovering from disordered eating is important, so too is the approach to such a sensitive subject.

“The road to recovery looks different for everyone, but the how we communicate about eating disorders should have one thing in common—safety,” Mysko says. “Detailing disordered eating practices and weight lows can be triggering for those still struggling, so it’s important that we’re mindful of how we share stories. The focus should be on hope, health and support rather than numbers, habits and graphic details.”

According to the NEDA website, “eating disorders, like suicide or terrorism, are issues that must be covered in a careful and responsible way in order to avoid inadvertently glamorizing or promoting copycats to experiment with these life-threatening behaviors.”

In its guidelines to responsible coverage, NEDA suggests not focusing on graphic images of people in recovery and not focusing on numbers (i.e. caloric intake and weight). It’s assumed that focusing on the perceived attractiveness of the subject is similarly frowned upon.

On Reddit, commenters appeared incredibly supportive of lucyffer. Many stated that they are struggling with eating disorders and find her post inspirational. However, a few mentioned that commenting on her body may not be helpful.

“It is sometimes triggering for people to hear others praise their body, especially with using words like ‘perfect,’ because the person hears that and believes that they have to achieve perfection to get praise,” wrote user smearfear, who claims that they too are in recovery from an eating disorder. “Even hearing that you look healthy can be triggering, because to a person with an ED it translates as fat or not sick enough.”

The causes and issues surrounding disordered eating are biological, psychological, and social, and it can be difficult to congratulate someone in recovery on their progress without focusing on the very body image issues that added to it in the first place. However, focusing on the “hotness” of someone in recovery helps no one—not the person in question, not readers, and certainly not anyone struggling with body image and eating issues.

Update 3:03pm CT, June 2: This piece was updated to include a quote from the National Eating Disorders Association.

The Daily Dot