Warning: This post -- and the links contained within -- contain possible triggers for those with eating disorders and body image issues. For that reason, I am purposefully placing the image associated with the original piece I'm commenting on below the fold.
It's been 48 hours since I first learned about the much-talked about Return of Kings post entitled Five Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder. Highlights include nuggets of wisdom like She's a Cheap Date and She's Fragile and Vulnerable. I won't lie; I read it three times. Not because I wanted to, mind you, but because the first two reads were almost blind. Like a gawker driving by a bad car accident, I couldn't take my eyes away from that they had just seen. My eyes had kept locking on the image of a woman in a little read dress and stilettos, hunched over a toilet with her fingers in her mouth, ready to force a purge.
Since it's publication last week, the site's publisher has issued a response to the resulting backlash. I'll give you a spoiler here and tell you now that the non-apology is almost worse than the original post, but (sadly) that is to be expected. ROK does not endorse eating disorders, they say. Rather (and this is the part where ROK pats themselves on their collective backs for their good graces) they proudly boasts their encouragement of America's single men not to "pass" on eating disordered women just because they have an illness.
Well, shit. Why didn't they say so in the first place? Silly people...we over-reacted! Stigma = bad. Seeking out and preying upon the fragile emotional state of a woman in crisis = good!
I call bullshit.
But before anyone assumes I'm calling out the ROK site for piss-poor justifying the publishing of 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder, let me make one thing perfectly clear: Every single one of you 134k who liked this piece on Facebook get an equal share of the blame for providing the market.
Just like the media can't take the all of the blame for causing eating disorders, ROK cannot (and should not) be the sole focus of your outrage for trivializing them. While every one of the 5 reasons makes me cringe for fear of their impact on actively eating disordered women (and men) reading them, we must remember that without the demand, the supply eventually fades away.
Let me put it this way:
* Glossy magazines and emaciated models, headlines shaming celebs for gaining weight and praising them for their unrealistic thinness, and Hollywood approved diet pills and crazy fad diets...all of these topics (and more) are on a never-ending loop that keeps being re-written because we keep buying them.
Conclusion? We are part of the problem.
* ROK and 5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder is disturbing (at best) and triggering (at worst). And while ROK's very existence makes me wish the internet came with a giant mute button, the site is incredibly popular with a loyal fan base that has given them the platform to continue publishing pro-fat shaming writings and stories like the one we all happen to be talking about now.
Conclusion: We are part of the problem.
People like this, y'all. And I don't just mean those who may have liked or otherwise shared the post in order to share in the outrage. I mean LIKED as in By Golly, That's Brilliant! That, my friends, is a very sad commentary reflecting right back on today's society. Then again, so is the fact that ROK received death threats because of 5 Reasons and its publication. To those of you who thought that little gem was the way to go, don't help. Just sit down, shut up, and let the rest of us finish this fight because you're not doing us any favors.
I'll be honest; when I sat down to write this my intention had been to list all the ways 5 Reasons is hurtful, harmful, and even dangerous. I was going to tell you about my failed attempts at anorexia (except for that one time I made it 4 months on just one apple and a single slice of cheese every day), but Rita Arens did an incredible job discussing anorexia and why ROK crossed the line in this BlogHer piece. As a woman who would most likely be singled out by ROK as a Fatty with No Self Control should they see this post, I was prepared to speak about Bulimia, binging and purging, and the emotional ship-wreck I was during that time period that guys I was dating hadn't realized was part of the package.
That's what I was going to do, but then I sat down to write and this is what happened.
If you've suffered through or are currently dealing with an eating disorder, the world is not made up entirely of assholes. There are plenty of us good-hearted souls who are here to help. Rita listed her email in her BlogHer post encouraging readers to reach out should the need help.
I'm here, too.