yesss i’m bulimic and almost never see bulimia representation. that’s why when i watched a documentary (it’s in swedish w only swedish CC so idk if anyone would benefit from a recommendation, it’s called Ätstört on SVTplay) where like half or so of the people featured had BN was eye opening and emotional because i feel like it doesn’t get attention in media ever, despite being a more common diagnosis than AN.
i personally struggle a lot with feeling shame for being bulimic because it feels like a bad, shameful and gross eating disorder to have. which i know isn’t true but it’s hard to not feel judged or self conscious. so seeing representation of real life people who struggled similarly to me was really helpful.
Yes I totally agree about the shaming!! My mum legit shames me every day for being “gross” and tells me how much I’m damaging my family by doing this
I want to have a chat with your ma. :( That is inexcusable treatment of one's child. I'm sorry she's like that to you.
Yep and she’s pissed off now cos my doctor put me on house arrest and she’s like THIS IS SO INCONVENIENT FOR ME and I’m like “I graduate in 6 weeks… you don’t think it’s inconvenient that I’m missing all this content”
Child, I am so sorry. That sucks so hard.
But congratulations on graduating soon. I hope you'll celebrate and know what an accomplishment this is.
Awwww thank you!! Hopefully my eating problems will all be over soon
I sincerely hope so, too. You deserve to enjoy life freely.
The show "physical" talks about bulimia (It's always in the background) , I dont know for others but the show really resonated with me .
I was going to mention it too. She binges on the show too
literally!!!! which is weird because almost every person w AN-R that i know including myself has binged!!!!!!!! but the little waif in movies and shows NEVER binges, she’s a good, tragic little skinny rexie who has to be saved, and she ONLY eats a cracker a day 🥺
ugh. binging is a natural reaction to not eating. your body needs food and finds a way. and yet hollywood doesnt care.
YES EXACTLY. And the only people who are ever shown to binge on tv are SHAMED (think supersize vs super skinny)
Even that girl in Wintergirls binges IIRC, which I found very comforting when I first read it. Say what you want about how that book romanticizes EDs (which it does), at least it got some stuff right.
God… I forgot about that book! I read it over and over to trigger myself.
I agree. I don't even have any specific ED I think they should show more of, I just want better ED representation all around. Also, they really should have more variation in *the type of person* who develops their ED. 95% of the time in ED media the sufferer is a middle-upper class white teenage girl, witnessing her parents divorce or something. I don't think it's asking for much to expect a bit of diversity. Even sticking to most of the stereotypes and changing one thing like having the sufferer be male or in their 40s would be a nice change.
Omg I completely agree. I understand the female trope as 90% of ED sufferers are female, and only 3% have AN, let alone AN-R. But that doesn’t matter. They have all kinds of people represented with depression, and the lack of representation means men are probably told they’re “picky eaters”
my arfid ass literally doesnt even get mentioned so...
THIS! No one even knows what ARFID is and when I try to tell people, they’re like, what. My ED began as ARFID for years and then kind of developed into AN because of all the positive social reinforcement I got for it; I guess that’s common but people always treat me with suspicion when I try to describe this experience. Ugh, anyway…
they always become medical professionals and try to tell me it's not a real ed and i'm just picky 😒
And they are always skinny. Having atypical anorexia and being obese is wild
Yup, I notice it too. Binge eating disorder is also sometimes depicted, but it’s usually someone who is normal/slightly overweight. If the person is overweight or obese, then it’s never treated as an eating disorder but instead they blame the person for overeating as if it happens in a vacuum.
My Mad Fat Diary is the expection to this. Noticeably fat character with BED who’s binges were portrayed with empathy and as a clear coping mechanism for her other mental health issues.
Wow that sounds like a good show. Is it?
Supersize vs super skinny to a tee. They shame the supersizer because they’re larger and when the super skinny eats all the food (OBVIOUSLY in a binge) they PRAISE
Sounds like *My 600 Lb Life.* They usually send the person to a therapist for a few sessions, but otherwise there’s not a lot of time at all spent on educating the viewers on BED.
Omg yesss I was thinking about this few days ago!! Even for bulimia, they don't show you the ones who purge by exercising which I belive to be a lot more common that we notice.
Holy hell you’re right
I highly recommand the show physical (who talks about bulimia between other things )
what's it streaming on?
I highly agree with you about AN-R but I have to pipe in about AN-Binge/Purge, (not just AN-Purging). That is my diagnosis and it is legitimately *never* actually referenced as even being a possibility. Literally no one outside of the ED community knows this even exists. 🤷🏼♂️ It is so invalidating and it’s because bingeing is so stigmatized.
I do also agree with your other points.
Yes you’re exactly right!! If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the difference between AN-BP and bulimia? Sorry I’m not being rude, I am just interested to know!!
If you refer to the DSM-5, (which, yes, I know it can be complete BS) it gives the specifics. Basically it’s all of the criteria for AN-R, including the low weight requirement, but also includes binge episodes. A lot of people say it’s “Bulimia with low weight,” which I personally do not agree with. There’s so much more to it.
I will tell you—specifically for me, I do not willingly consume *any* calories, whatsoever. Not one single calorie goes into my body that I don’t purge. It’s horrific and has ruined me.
I’m the same, except I feel like I don’t “binge” cos to me, binging means losing control. I choose to eat more cos I know I’ll purge it
Yes, I feel exactly the same! My “binges” are so completely controlled, calculated, every single step is thoughtfully managed and most people would never even notice I was bingeing. It’s a huge method of control for me.
Wow this is so weird to hear other people talk about this. This is so me.
Because we don’t “fit” anywhere, and I find it hard to know which subs to post in.
Ugh I totally agree, I have AN-BP too and it’s awful and I never see it in the media.
Right! It’s like we’re invisible. My new doctor recently gave me the completely wrong diagnosis and it truly matters! It means knowing/recommending/prescribing appropriate treatment methods and medications and it also helps with insurance claims, accessing HLOC, etc etc. It’s not just about “wanting” or “being desperate” for an AN diagnosis. I corrected her REAL quickly.
THANK YOU YES!!! i never see people discussing this diagnosis even within the community sometimes.. especially when i was in treatment! others would say i had to be one or the other when i was a normal weight it was bulimia and vise versa. it's exhausting to see characters where their weight reflects their diagnosis in media as well because people cannot accept weight doesn't matter!! it's so exhausting i hear you
Yes, yes, yes! Hopefully soon we will see more representation, or at least, see it talked about more within these spaces.
And I *so* agree with you about character’s weight dictating their diagnosis in media. It’s just WRONG on many levels and perpetuates those goddamn stigmas that keep people sick.
It’s not just “feels like”, I’m pretty certain that’s the truth. I hate how EDs are portrayed in media, particularly on screen, bc it’s so rarely accurate. You nailed it - they’re usually either showing a tiny narrow view of AN-R, or AN-BP. Little room for anything else. I actually was putting together a video essay on the topic and covering some of the most infamous characters/scenes/shows/films, but got hung up on the video editing part.
For a good depiction of bulimia, albeit quite triggering, season 4 of The Crown does a great job portraying Princess Diana’s. I believe episodes 3, 6, 9 ? Not sure. But they include the uglier moments of the disorder which was refreshing because I’m used to seeing it be so minimized.
As a fun fact about this, if any of y’all have seen Euphoria - Barbie Ferrera had a lesser role in the latest season and is now leaving the show partially due to fighting with creator Sam Levinson about giving her character an ED arc (pretty must just because she’s plus sized). Fucking love Barbie for standing up to that.
Edit: wording :)
Wow let me know if you end up creating the video!
Wow good on her! I think it’s good she didn’t wanna be boxed into a role based on her size and also didn’t wanna play a character who’s suffering with a disease she’s never had (I assume)
Oops, I’m sorry - I will edit that! I was kinda alluding to all parts of EDs/bulimia being ugly, but I absolutely see how it could seem offensive like if I was saying that only bingeing is ugly. Nope, all of it is 😅 I’m on a bit of a mission to stop romanticizing my ED and EDs in general, for obvious reasons, and I meant that it all sucks. I apologize for my wording being crass and if that upset anyone!
Oh my god don’t worry!!! I know you NEVER meant it like that and you are absolutely right. My chest hurts, I’m tired and dizzy ALL the time, I’m on 4 medications, I have exams starting in 8 weeks and I’m exhausted trying to pull through. I don’t even fit into my graduation dress anymore cos it’s too big on me and I can’t swap it for a smaller size cos that’s the smallest they sell. ED’s are ugly
I'd also really really love to see fat characters w bulimia, fat characters w anorexia + characters w bed that aren't morbidly obese bc I feel like they always make the first two out to be skinny ppl disorders + bed out to be a fat person disorder but you can be any size w any of them
Also I don't think I've ever seen a character w pica or arfid
Also I'd like to see bulimics whose main form or purging isn't vomiting bc ppl think bulimia = vomiting but rly it's any behaviour to compensate for binging like I've gone through binge/fast cycles, binge/lax cycles, binge/exercise, etc
Also more autistic characters w eds since that's a large chunk of the ed community + more men + non-binary ppl w eds
Basically anything that isn't skinny rich white girl w divorced parents that magically has access to unlimited treatment centres + has a sudden recovery
Also they need to stop glorifying inpatient bc it's traumatic af + often you don't get better. Especially in the UK, the only ward I've been to w a psychologist there was private + she was transphobic so I got no therapy (although I did call her a cunt + fat bitch often enough that I feel I returned the favour) they literally just kept nhs patients there indefinitely like we were cash cows for them /: so fucked up it was a secure hospital too so they promised intensive therapy + all I got were more flashbacks for the collection
I agree so much with this! Not to mention there's cycles of restriction and binging which is never shown. The characters are always skinny girls who get skinnier and I've been talking to people on this sub and we talk about losing and gaining the same amount of weight over and over again. I also have no idea how anyone is finding "love" in fucking inpatient and I hated To The Bone so much for that because I don't think I've actually met a single person who's even made a friend in inpatient let alone found a so?
Yea, I think most ppl who have had an ed for long enough will have cycled through different ed behaviours - throughout my life I've had behaviours that resemble bulimia, anorexia, bed, arfid + pica (I v likely had pica up until I was about 16 tbh) I just got a bulimia diagnosis bc that's the cycle I was stuck in for the longest
I’d love to see more representation like that in ED docos!! That would be so helpful to so many, including parents and guardians of sufferers. It could honestly help so many see different warning signs and create early intervention. And also understand that their loved one may have a problem, despite not fitting the mould of media depicted eating disorders
And yes everyone thinks going inpatient is like going for any other treatment. No way. I see through that bull
I feel like it’s some form of fetishization. People with ED aren’t valid unless they’re skinny, amirite. You only feel pity for the beautiful frail anorexic girl.
Tangentially related but i feel the same way about trans people in media. Super sexualised and people who arent passing arent accepted.
Media in general just… sucks
Yes you’re totally right. I feel like being underw is fetishised ridiculously, and the lack of eating can be praised or seen as “cute” and binging or purging or anything other than restriction is seen as “gross” and “manly” and “unladylike”. And that’s the most important thing to avoid for the media. And I haven’t seen many shows depicting trans individuals (I usually watch documentaries or old sitcoms or horror) so I’m not going to comment on that bit because I’m not educated enough and don’t want to say something wrong. But I believe what you say
nah genuinely. I feel like logically AN/BP is probably more common than AN/R. find me a single anorexic who's never binged, I find it hard to believe that there's less people who have that as a regular or semi regular occurrence than just one or two binges ever.
Yeah you’re exactly right!!
Yeah but it is only because that is what normal people want to see. They want to see skinny girls and “learning the secrets” and since restrictive type is the only ED people “wished they had” that is what will make people watch a movie about it. And only if the main character is skinny and not normal weight. The depiction also always focuses on the not eating and over exercising and not much on actual feelings etc.
It’s crazy how they glorify it
I think it is because bulimia is deadlier faster. It also LOOKS less skinny sometimes and this makes it less fun for TV.
Google Terri Schiavo, she was bulimic and went into a coma. It is scary stuff.
I recovered from it and I am still happier with it gone. IDC if you say it lasts forever, it has been over 20 years and I do not miss it at all.
Tell me your recovery secrets 🙏
I went to OA and got a sponsor. I sometimes did a meeting a day in college for many days in a row.
When I struggled and I lived on my own, I literally shopped every day and got food for one day, sometimes two days at a time. I had no refrigerator when I got my first place for almost a year. I bought only canned food that was precooked and heated it in the microwave. Canned veggies and beans. I did this because I was sooo afraid to binge. It helped but it was white knuckling it and I fell off the wagon sometimes.
The thing that made me stop relapsing (it took over 2 years) was when I got a bulimic sponsor and my only restriction was don't barf. That was super scary but I hung in there and I managed not to get "fat." Even though I sometimes did binge, I would lie down and try to just breathe, stay calm, and hold it in. I would call my sponsor and she would repeat, "your body is designed to overeat and it will digest. It is normal and fine."
I kept relapsing and could only get max 45 days. I always relapsed no matter what during midterm exams and finals. Sometimes it would take months to get back on track.
My sponsor told me to call all the old timers she knew who had a long streak of bulimic recovery and she gave me a list. I told them my sponsor was making me call and I needed to know what made their current abstinence last.
I got many different stories, but the one that struck me as most meaningful was from another person my age who had almost 3 years of no bulimia. She told me that during the LA riots when people were running around and it was scary she was tormented by the feeling the need to barf. She told herself that each time she told the disease "no" and refrained from barfing she got stronger. Sometimes the urge was really strong and she would tell herself that same thing until she worked through it. That night during the LA riots was the hardest experience she ever had in her life so far. Knowing she made it through that night without barfing made her feel like each day thereafter was that much easier. She warned that another test could come up and that you have to get the mindset that if you can hold out this one more hard time, the rest will be that much easier by comparison.
My big "bottom", or barf test, was after the last final exam of my sophomore year of college. I needed an A to be in an apprentice program with a professor and I wanted to go to grad school. I knew if I got into the program, I would be able to have a mentor to carry me through. I got home from that last exam and I did not know if I got an A. I put all I had into the test and I was so afraid I would miss the opportunity that I really needed. Grad school and my profession was literally my life's dream and purpose since elementary school.
I could barely function I was so filled with anxiety. I accidentally ate too much, or I just felt that feeling because I was so freaked out. I called the girl again who told me the LA riot story and I hung on the phone for a while until I thought I could get through it. I held on with all I had and I actually cried a little. I found out a few days later, that I got an A- so I got in the program.
After I stopped barfing and passed that super hard test, the subsequent urges were less difficult to manage. I noticed that I could concentrate soooo much easier. I still need to eat a perfect diet when I am studying for tests or I get distracted by my ED and body issues. I also do life less well when my food is not clean.
But as for bulimia, I feel so MUCH better physically and mentally that I have no desire to ever go back. The desire to go back left me for good after 2 years of feeling great and having my stomach stop hurting.
My grades soared and I was on the honor list almost from that day forward. I got into the grad school I wanted and got the career I wanted. My life has only gotten better since then, even with the eating and body issues that still plague me. I was never anorexic and never obese. Just a bit of a yoyo and still considered pretty darn healthy by medical standards.
I would also recommend buying digestive aid supplements from a vitamin store. There are many types and they help the food digest when you accidentally overeat. I usually feel fine in about 30 minutes. That makes it way better too. I learned that tip many years later from someone in OA.
Wow that’s amazing. I am so grateful for your tips I can’t even. I’m at my lowest, almost got admitted for a month yesterday, only thing that saved me was that I threaten s*icide to my mum and I was dead serious so she didn’t sign the forms and therefore I couldn’t legally be made to stay
I didn't have health insurance so I never had any counseling or anything available. But OA helped me a lot. Just being surrounded by people who think and act like you with messages of hope. They have special Ana and Bulimia groups. I hope it does help. It was scary for a while. Especially when I realized I was throwing up even when I was thin and even when I ate measured safe food. It was independent of weight loss. That made me feel like an Ahole. I thought that insight would make me stop and it didn't.
My mum was crying about our finances from the food I was eating. That was horrific. Her and I fight all the time though, her grasping for control, me trying to communicate to her that I need control to recover
yeah definitely, and id say its because anorexia is the only glamorous one. nobody envies a binge eater. nobody envies a bulimic. but being anorexic, well it makes you skinny right? its more desirable, people can turn a blind eye to your methods if it makes you look attractive and cute and i really fucking wish i wasn't talking from experience
So god damn fetishised
Big agree, and they never even show the bizarre low cal safe concoctions, never any of the weird gut issues, just some dark circles and fainting spells.
Never show average or overweight restrictions either or 'thin'/'average' characters with binge behaviors, nope! The only way this hellish disorder manifests is skinni white teen eats only ice and air, gets skinnier, it's certainly not a mental health condition with a huge spectrum of individual experiences, triggers, and behaviors.
On that topic, I want to see a movie that shows a relapse and re-recovery, or a mini series where we can see that recovery is not linear and relapses are pretty normal, not at all shameful, and we can come back from them
Yes yes and they can also include some real recovery tips by the recovery team in the series. That would be so helpful I’m sure to do many who can’t afford a recovery team or who’s recovery team sucks (aka mine who told me I “look disgusting and really gross. Everyone is thinking it and everyone can tell” yesterday)
Chris Traeger in parks and rec is a total Orthorexic but it’s like “quirky!!! XD”
I think that’s a great idea
I wish if EDNOS was represented more
i was listening to a podcast with tabitha farrar and she was talking about how most anorexics don’t even stay purely restrictive after the first initial maybe 6 months-1 year. it’s just not possible (for like 95% of us (made up stat lol)). i know for me, after the first maybe 8 months of restriction, i developed some sort of exercise purging cycle where i had to walk X amount of steps a day or do X amount of exercise to eat X amount of calories. like there is no way i could’ve kept restricting forever and ever. i went through extreme hunger, binging, etc. but that’s never depicted in media lol. it’s just ooh skinny anorexic girl eats 500 calories a day omg ;-;;; like man if i stayed purely restrictive i would’ve died
edit: the best show i’ve seen about bulimia is physical. it’s on appleTV, 10/10
Oh I’ve never seen it!! Thank you!!
There was a show called "Starved" I think? It was canceled pretty much immediately and the only thing I remember was a scene from the first episode where a guy is eating brownies out of a trashcan in the street that he poured laundry detergent on to try and stop himself from eating them. It was shocking to say the least
I agree, and also want to offer another issue which is AN-R itself is depicted as only “for” teenage girls. Most of us continue our EDs into adulthood. I’m 38 and still AN-R. But people like me are never included in the media because we’re old and no longer media-friendly. Then everyone thinks AN-R is a teenage disorder and middle-age sufferers are mocked for not “growing out of it.”
Yes that’s incredibly true. But also it doesn’t help the teenage girls as they usually draw her disorder up to a lack of maturity when that’s not the case at all. And stuff like that means everyone thinks “they’ll grow out of it” and we never do. My mum told me the other day that she saw the warning signs 5yrs ago when I was 13 but she thought I’d grow out of it. I’m going to the hospital today for forced admission. People need to be educated on this issue
Ooooooh I’m literally writing a paper over this for my college class
would you mind DMing it to me when you finish? I’d love to read it
I will! It’ll probably be a couple weeks because the 1st draft was due tonight and I’d rather share the finished product. My opening paragraph was , "Society and social media tend to glorify eating disorders, only shining the limelight on Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Leaving those who suffer from other disorders such as OSFED (Other Specified Eating and Feeding Disorder), Binge eating disorder, and so many more, unaware that their eating habits or thoughts and behaviors surrounding food as unhealthy. On top of being unaware, sufferers may also gain knowledge as to how to delve farther into the disordered life. So, why continue to let society and media pump out material that can be harmful?”. So, it’s a little more open than your OP here but the idea still stands.
Maybe proportionally, but i think all ed stories need to be told more than tbey are rn.
Hmm I only partially agree on that. I feel like more ED docos need to come out but an ED character can go wrong very quickly. If the director doesn’t know what they’re talking about, if the actor doesn’t know how to portray it properly, and also just the fact that it’s damn distressing to watch for so so many people. I think it should be done, but it needs to be done only a few times and done really right, not just more in general
The only show I remember actually shows binge eating in like the really miserable thing that it is and the damaging compensatory techniques that follow it is probably insatiable from Netflix
Bulimia got some scant depiction in the 80s, including the binging in one memorable showing on Different Strokes that managed to convey that restriction was much healthier and virtuous. But I hardly ever see it depicted now.
The way have never seen some of the most common behaviors of an restrictive like walking in the middle of the night in your own room for like 3 hours, having nightmares about food and like being an absolute asshole to literally everyone cause you are literally insanely depressed and starving just because it's not glamorous is insane
Bulimia and BED isn’t “beautiful” like Anorexia. Little do they know the disgusting shit we all do. How our behaviors cross. I don’t even want to see depictions of my illness in media, who does it help? Not me. Not you.
In documentaries and that I think it could help caretakers like parents and guardians HEAPS and in movies, help the general public with sensitivity an understanding of what weight their words carry. And also help everyone look for warning signs
Oh yeah, my comment isn’t in regards to educational films, I meant like fictional, dramatized stuff! I agree 100%
Not since Degrassi, for me!