As soon as he got home from work, I told The Husband to go online and Google the name of one of our favorite Travel Channel hosts. We're kind of on the crazy-strict side of what television shows we allow Eliana to watch, what with all the crap on TV these days, but we seem to have hit a consensus on our TV-happy place with many shows on the Travel Channel, including host Adam Richman and his show, Man V. Food. While we can't eat most of the food he consumed on the air (we are gluten-free due to Celiac and allergies), we still watch. Richman's energy is infectious, making him a natural in front of the camera.
Very recently, I saw Richman featured in a commercial and stopped dead in my tracks. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Richman, who had filled out during his time traveling the country in search of various restaurant food challenges, looked a different person entirely, having shed some 60-pounds. A Men's Health article describes the weight loss as "taking control over his own body." I don't know Richman, but I was proud of him, and I told The Husband as much. I couldn't wait for his new show to air.
"This is bad," The Husband said, glancing away from the computer monitor. "He didn't just burn a bridge here. He blew the damned thing up."
I nodded. I can't see anything good coming when a television personality tells a woman to kill herself in response to her comments regarding the #thinspiration hash-tag used by Richman in a post celebrating a too-big suit. Richman was understandably unaware of the dangerous connotations associated with the tag. It seems harmless enough -- take inspiration and add the "th" at the front of the word and show the world that eating right and getting active does, in fact, work. (I'll save the Thinness and Health conversation for another day). I get why he used it, honestly, I do. But the fact remains that the term is laden with dangerous undertones; it's the tag used by the eating disordered in pro-anorexia ad bulimia forums to cheer each other on. So an instagram follower commented on the post and asked him to please refrain from using again. If I'd seen it, I admit I would have done the same.
Remember, this is cute and cheerful, seemingly lovable Adam Richman we're talking about here. Who knew he was a Complete and Total Asshole?
Richman's responses (which have since been deleted) , however, may have been his undoing, already resulting in his new show being pulled "indefinitely" by the Travel Channel.
Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.
And suddenly I'm inside my own head. I'm a college sophomore student home for the Christmas break holiday. I haven't told my parents I'm on the brink of failing out. My friend and sorority sisters are tired of my drama and antics and if they haven't already was hands of me, they are about to. I know this because of the letter I'm holding in my hands. My mother said it arrived with the mail earlier that same day, which mean it was sent from campus and intended for me to read alone and without chance to respond. The words on the paper are blurry because I'm crying too hard to focus, and yet, I've somehow managed to keep the letter from getting wet as I sit in the tub, cocooned up to my neck by the weight of the piping hot water.
I had been hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn't hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.
"If you really wanted to kill yourself you'd be dead and if you really had an eating disorder, you'd be a hell of a lot smaller than you are right now. All you are is a drama queen looking for attention."
Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home. Not too much time passed before I found myself with a letter sent to me by a "friend" and "sister" from the sorority I used to belong to.
With the letter in one hand, I kept reading those words over and over. I had the razor in my other. Maybe she was right. Maybe I didn't try hard enough. Maybe I was still eating to much. How many calories did one apple have? And one slice of cheese? That's all I allowed myself every day. Anything over that, I punished myself by purging until my throat was raw and I was empty again. Maybe I shouldn't have gone to the hospital and just waited to disappear.
Or maybe not.
Maybe she's wrong, I thought. Maybe I'm here right now because I got pissed off about being labeled and misjudged and knew I had to put the razor down if I was going to do any good in writing, sharing all of my experiences, and showing this bitch just exactly who she was dealing with.
I survived because I was told I wouldn't. I kept going because someone told me to stop living. Anger and stubbornness are what set the razor back where it belonged in the tub. Growth and the desire to help those who are currently where I've been are why I'm writing the words you see here. Fuck Adam Richman and his close-minded vitriol. Fuck suicide and eating disorders and self-hate. Fuck all of it and Richman's "apology." Because words can't be taken back, especially once they've been given shape and weight after having been written.
Cunt. Go draw a bath and grab a razor blade. I doubt anyone will miss you.
Richman showed his true colors in this exchange and may have ended his television career in one fell swoop. I wonder if he's even begun to grasp the severity of the situation or if he's still convinced he did no wrong here. But then, I guess it doesn't really matter, does it? What does is speaking up and speaking out in an effort to reach those depressed enough to harm themselves and letting them know that someone gets it. That someone understands. That someone cares and will, without a doubt, miss them -- sopleasestayalive.
Maybe Richman just didn't know. Maybe he just didn't care. Either way, the rest of us who do care are going to keep trying to pick up the broken pieces left in Richman's wake. I'm not fooling myself into thinking anything written on the subject at hand is going to change his mind, nor do I believe any and all apologies on his part are actually sincere. Instead, it's time to focus on the silver lining.
#eyesontheprize #victory #anythingispossible.
Yes, Mr Richman, anything is possible. There are those of us who will continue to speak up in the hopes of helping the eating disordered recover and remind the suicidal that they do matter to those who need and love them. Feel free to sit this one out, Richman. We're doing just fine without you.
Find out the warning signs of suicide and how to get help:
If you're thinking about suicide or know someone who is, get help now. Not sure what signs to look for if you're concerned about a friend? Here's a list of warning signs from the You Matter Lifeline website:
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline. Dial
1-800-799-4TTY (4889) for those with hearing or speech impaired with TTY equipment.