Myths About Eating Disorders

There are many myths about eating disorders. This article addresses several important issues when it comes to understand truth vs. fiction, or myth vs. fact, when it comes to eating disorders. Think you know a lot about eating disorders? Keep reading to see if it is fact.

Myths about eating disorders are of two types: first, there are certain misconceptions that play a role in causing eating disorders; second there mistaken suppositions about eating disorders themselves and the people who have them.

The Myths About Eating Disorders

Women come in all different shapes and sizes. Healthy women are sometimes very slender, but that is not the norm: there is a large range of healthy sizes that do not fall into the category of obesity. Yet, the ideal woman, as portrayed in dolls (Barbie™), movies, television, and magazines is not just slender: she’s more slender than any real woman should be and sometimes more than any real woman can be.

Photoshopping - the alteration of the photographic image - of models is a standard procedure. And, given the purpose of these photos, is it understandable, perhaps, that they would correct a stray hair across a model’s face, a scratch the model got from her cat, matching an actor’s skin tone with that of the stunt performer’s body it is melded with, or an outbreak of acne. But that’s not all that is done. Models are made to look so much thinner than they actually are, that the results are sometimes ludicrous.

Two examples were outstanding in 2009: the Ralph Lauren photograph of Fillipa Hamilton who is a size 4, altered so much that her hips were thinner than her head. A controversial photograph of Demi Moore in W appears to have a chunk of her left thigh removed, and has been characterized as “Ralph Laurenized” by some commenters. Moore claims it’s not so, but the photograph, Anthony Citrano insists it has been retouched.

Whatever the truth is, the point is that this kind of alteration is ubiquitous, and it can make people at a healthy weight feel that they are unattractive. The myth of what a woman should look like can contribute to eating disorders. Keep in mind, though, that eating disorders also affect men: the photoshopping scandals about them have just been fewer. This widespread phenomenon is thought to underlie some, though not all, instances of eating disorders.

More Myths About Eating Disorders

There are many myths in this category, based on various types of misunderstandings, stereotypes, or misinformation:

Myth: Eating disorders are a choice.

Reality: Eating disorders are a mental/medical illness that require treatment to be overcome, so it is wrong to think that they are just a habit or lifestyle choice.

Myth: Only women have eating disorders.

Reality: Both men and women can have eating disorders.

Myth: Eating disorders are all about being thin.

Reality: Binge eating, in which a person may eat 10,000 to 20,000 calories in one sitting or up to 50,000 calories in a single day is also an eating disorder, as is eating nonnutritive substances, an eating disorder known as pica, and rumination disorder, which involves regurgitation.

Myth: Eating disorders are society’s fault for conveying an unattainable ideal of what a woman should look like.

Reality: The causes include genetic and biological, as well as social factors, family issues, and personal factors, so no one of these is entirely to blame.

Myth: Eating disorders is mostly about teenage girls and their adolescent angst.

Reality: There are a number of eating disorder statistics and facts that counter this myth: eating disorders in high school boys has been on the increase in the decade from 1995 to 2005; two fifths of the people who have binge eating disorder, or BED, are men; ten percent of bulimcs are men and it can have an onset age up to 58 years old; rumination disorder, an eating disorder involving regurgitation of food, occurs primarily in babies under a year old.

Related Article: Causes of Teen Eating Disorders >>