The Wrong Kind of Empathy


One of the most frustrating things about having BED is the following scenario: I finally decide to suppress my shame and admit to someone who does not have an eating disorder that I had an awful binge last night, and he or she responds, “Oh my god, me too!” At soon as those words leave their mouth, I know where the conversation is headed. There is no support to be found here.

“Binging” on food has become a part of everyday parlance, making it more difficult for binge eating disorder to be seen as a legitimate disorder. What they really mean is that they overate last night, but they did not truly binge. “Are you kidding? I ate a huge plate of pasta and then some cheesecake for dessert!” That, my friend, is not a binge. That is the start of a binge.

Where I live and go to school, model-thin girls are everywhere. You would have a very hard time finding anyone morbidly obese in my city or on my campus. I hear conversations all the time like “Oh my god, I had so many carbs yesterday! I had an entire muffin for breakfast. I’m such a fatty.” and “I can’t believe I had two donut holes today. Now I have to go to the gym. ” and “Oh, I’m not actually going to eat this. I just got it to take a picture.” and it drives me INSANE.

Eating a muffin three times a year is not a binge. Eating a muffin every day is not a binge. Eating a 6-pack of muffins and then looking frantically for more? Now let’s talk about binging.


2 thoughts on “The Wrong Kind of Empathy

  1. So well-put. I have heard this so many times. My sister refused to believe I had an ED because I am a normal weight. Same with my mum. I have actually sobbed to my mother, trying to explain to her what I do to myself. She says ‘But I do it, too!’ No, Mum, you don’t. I have begged her to take me seriously. But they don’t see us do it, so they cannot comprehend it.

    • Ahhh, your family is identical to mine! My sister and my mom had the EXACT same reactions as yours, even as I was crying too. It can be incredibly frustrating, and recovery is more difficult without their support. Thankfully, my sister eventually came around, but my mother is still oblivious to how much BED has impacted my life.

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