June is officially #Pride month which means for the entirety of summery four weeks, colourful celebrations promoting equal-rights will transpire world wide, sending out the message #LoveWins. Along with the pride-themed festivities, comes an opportunity to educate those regarding the imperative present issues that still affect the LGBTQ+ community on a daily basis.
NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association) recently released an article exposing the statistics regarding eating disorders within the LGBTQ+ populations, and it inspired me to look a little deeper into the topic.
According to research, eating disorders are stereotypically prevalent in white, middle class females - but we all know stereotypes can put more pressure on those already feeling like they're not good enough.
The article highlights the fear of rejection in relation to 'coming out', along with the discrimination and internalized negative messages about oneself, as potential factors that would put individuals at high risk for developing an eating disorder.
Recently, I spoke with a friend who struggled with an eating disorder during her teens,
“I didn't even realize I liked girls until I was 14, but before then, I always felt different and thought there was something wrong with me. I remember having a negative self image as far back as five years old. I had looked in the mirror and started crying because I hated how I looked.”
Marisa, 27, found there was a link between her disordered eating and the bullying she encountered after coming out to a friend.
"I came out to my best friend when I was 16 and she ended up cutting me off and outing me to our mutual friends and her other friends as well.One time, she noticed me in a classroom after school as she was walking by and she said to the kids she was with, 'There's a dyke in there!'"
"I think some of that definitely contributed to my eating disorder. That same year, I started keeping a food journal and tried to eat as little as possible. I do feel like it's not a coincidence that my eating disorder started at the same time as the anti gay bullying I encountered."
It is no doubt that bullying and low self-esteem are two of the main contributors to developing an eating disorder in your teens - and sadly, those who are struggling to understand their sexuality and/or gender are more exposed to discrimination.
Seeking help for an eating disorder can be overwhelming for anyone, but especially to those who already feel isolated and different. It is important we continue to educate ourselves about all issues within the LGTBQ+ community, and this certainly includes Mental Health and proper treatment for those who are suffering. Eating disorders don’t discriminate based on gender identity or sexual orientation - and neither should recovery. 'Love is love' also includes self-love - and that is something everyone deserves.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, please seek help. Below are a few reputable resources for recovery.
I stand by my brothers and sisters not only during pride month, but every day of the year, and I will continue to fight for equal rights until the battle has been won.
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