Thursday, December 12, 2013

On HLBs...

“Healthy living bloggers,” that is. This post is not aimed at every single one of them, and I’m not going to get into what I think of “healthy living” in general. Whatever floats your boat, there are some people that this kind of stuff really works for, it motivates them, and they are not destructive.

I do, however, take issue with the number of these bloggers who are actually disordered. Can we just call them DLBs? (There are so many fitting words that start with D, I just can’t help my immature self.)

Eating disorders are a serious thing. I don’t want to undermine these people’s struggles. And I certainly don’t blame them or feel badly towards them because they have an eating disorder. Or because they are not actively recovering. It’s your life, not mine, and I can’t tell you how to live it.

BUT. It’s one thing to struggle with an ED in private. It’s another completely to parade it around the internet, pretend you are healthy and that everything you do is healthy and “OK,” and take tons of proud pictures of your emaciated body.

This type of thing is so scary to me. Lots of people follow these blogs and leave compliments and encouragement and actually buy into the “look how healthy I am” crap. Yes, you’re very healthy when you exercise for 5+ hours a day, fuel for a marathon with a salad the night before, and eat only squash drowned in cinnamon. Or go on and on about how you know you need to gain weight and want to gain weight, eat a couple egg whites for a meal and add tough cardio to your plan.

These are the kind of things I did when I was at the worst of my disorder.

Again, I’m not blaming these people for those actions specifically. It’s them posting all this crap about “I’m fine, look at me, I’m all recovered and still stick thin and everything is sunshine and rainbows!” or “I’ve never had an eating disorder in my life, I just love lettuce and running and I am a fitness instructor!” And deleting comments that say as much, only letting through positive affirmations of their “lifestyles.” They are normalizing eating disorders like it’s not life threatening. It is.

These women (yes they are mostly women) look like death, yet they have a legion of followers who are probably being sucked into their own eating disorders thanks to the blogs. How many other people’s eating disorders have been their responsibility?

First off, this is not directed at all bloggers with EDs. I mean, I’m guilty of keeping a blog throughout the worst of my ED and now recovery. And if you really want me to, I will gladly get off your internets because the last thing I want to do is be the trigger for someone’s ED. But I never really posted about my worst when I was at my worst, and I at least knew that what I was doing was killing me.

There is a difference between blatant refusal to admit there is a problem and saying yes, I am struggling. There is a difference between taking thousands of pictures of “recovery/recovered” (read: disordered) meals and saying, I still am not allowing myself to eat and so I am seeking help. There is a difference between flaunting your ED and cautioning others against it.

I understand that having an eating disorder goes hand-in-hand with being in denial, but there is also a sense of shame that goes with most of them. I’m not saying you should be ashamed of having an eating disorder, because that is absolutely ridiculous.

I have not talked about my whole background with eating disorders (I don’t know if I will someday, I doubt if enough people are actually interested in that, and I doubt how helpful it would be to others trying to recover). Partly because it goes back probably seven or eight years and it is daunting (not to mention I don’t remember everything). But also because I am not proud of it, and I am afraid of triggering people.

The point is that I would never have admitted to my habits when I was at my worst. Even then I knew they weren’t normal, and I hid them from everyone except those that had to know. I didn’t throw them up on the internet because that would have meant admitting I had a problem. Which I was not ready to do, even if I knew it deep down.

But apparently the world is so disordered now that I would have been “normal” to a ton of people. Who knows, I could have gotten thousands of followers and sponsorships from companies and free stuff that I would never eat. That’s how this stuff seems to work.

It’s scary. The number of people that think this is “normal” behavior and that these DLBs look “great” or their food is “yum” makes me want to crawl in a hole and give up trying to spread sanity over the internet because, well, it’s like trying to remain grounded in the middle of a tornado.

I would love nothing more than to block these blogs from everyone’s internet, especially the vulnerable population teetering on the edge of disorder/relapse. But I can’t. That’s not my responsibility, as much as I wish it was; it’s theirs.
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