Kudos to Christine Quinn, the NYC mayoral candidate who revealed earlier this week her past struggle with bulimia. Eating disorders have the highest rate of mortality of any mental illness and yet continue to be shrouded in shame and misunderstanding. Bulimia is especially stigmatized as the less “socially-accepted” of the two most recognized eating disorders, so any person who admits to having struggled with this particular disorder deserves special praise and support.
Despite the courage exhibited by Quinn and other women in the public eye (like Demi Lovato, Katie Couric, etc.) who have admitted to past struggles with bulimia, it still seems necessary to establish a certain distance from the disorder before admitting to it. It’s nearly unheard of for a famous person to state that she still, currently, actively struggles with bulimia; there seems to be some safety in saying “that was then, this is now” or “I have a shameful secret from a long time ago, but I’m better today”.
So while Quinn’s admittance is brave and powerful (especially in the male-dominated field of politics), society is still a long way from accepting and understanding eating disorders, evidenced by the constant need to downplay them and create distance from them. Bravo to people in the public eye who open up about any experience at all with disordered eating; anything that helps facilitate a conversation about the issue is valuable. However, it seems our culture is still a long way off from supporting and applauding someone who says “I am living with an eating disorder”.
Let’s start today! Here are some great and accessible resources for fostering ED understanding, support, and destigmatization:
— Naomi Wolf.Posted 1 week ago