Pro-Tip: Saying something negative about how skinny or how little someone eats when they have an eating disorder doesn’t magically make them love themselves.
It seems most people have forgotten how feelings and sympathy work. Even if nobody says it, just the belief that “punishing” someone with an eating disorder by telling them they look scrawny will somehow “fix” the situation is a pretty damaging one. Imagine how embarrassed and ashamed that person feels when they hear a comment like,”ew, you look like a skeleton.”
Put yourself in his or her shoes. I’m sure if you were told you looked like a skeleton, you’d feel pretty hideous(did you see that oxymoron there?). If it were any other perceived flaw, people would see it as a form of bullying. Having terrible acne comes to mind as a comparable state. Those mean comments that are sometimes excused as trying to be helpful is bullying in disguise.
Another oft forgotten thing is that this weight loss is the result of being sick. Consider this; is it socially acceptable to put someone down because they’re missing a limb as a result of an illness, like cancer? It goes without saying that that would be shunned immediately. Looking “skeleton-like” comes from emotional turmoil and low self-esteem. It comes from a real, diagnosable sickness.
Empathy is a good start. Next, you should realize that disordered eating is everywhere. There are people you know who look “a little on the small side,” but not like the dramatic pictures you’ve seen on the Internet. Disordered eating is different from an eating disorder. Men and women of all ages can have unhealthy relationships with food. People of all sorts can hate themselves, too. Not all people with disordered eating are diagnosed, anorexic teen aged girls, as the stereotype is usually portrayed in popular media. The best policy is to be kind and nurturing. The old adage,”if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” applies here.
With all this in mind, the new year can be the year we eradicate this backwards thinking. I hope to see people call others out when this sort of behaviour takes place. Take care of yourselves, take care of each-other, and have a happy 2016.