WARNING: TALKING ABOUT EATING DISORDERS
Hello everybody! So, I’m just gonna dive straight into the deep end and cut to the chase: at the time of writing I am stuck and paralysed in bed. Want to know why? Well read on (aye clickbait sorry lol).
Anyway, as a teenage girl, more frankly a millennial growing up in the age of the super monster of social media, I feel for some strange reason, that I have leeway to talk about eating disorders, and the correlation between school , social media, and EDs.
So lets get the record straight, I don’t particularly classify as ‘having’ anorexia. I definitely don’t ‘have’ bulimia either (I have no gag reflex whatsoever), but I am paralysed in bed because I have eaten minimally this whole week and I ate virtually nothing yesterday. My heart is beating incredibly fast, partly because my circulation has slowed down which means I need to pump blood around my body faster, and partly because I am so nervous because the last time I told anybody about having trouble with my body image and self esteem, well, it was brushed off as a ‘teenage girl phase’. So yes. It did not go down well.
(Btw I am so sorry this is a slightly depressing topic.)(I’m gonna schedule this to post after a more light-hearted one.)
So I’m not doing well today. (And I’m just realising it would’ve been a cleverer idea to make this blog anon oops). Okay, anyway, I invite you to be educated rather than by doctors who probably got their medical degree in the 90s, but by a teenage girl instead.
I think the problem of mental illnesses and eating disorders is bigger than anyone can imagine. And I say this because, now that flu season is over, the girls not coming into school for a couple of days because of a ‘mysterious reason’ is becoming drastically more common. Within my cosy friendship group of five (and one is a boy), three of us (and that includes me) have been sporadically not coming in because of eating problems.
To be completely honest, I don’t even need to ask anymore. If your (most commonly a girl) friend doesn’t come in for a day, you usually know its not a cold- its probably something eating related. I am constantly aware of who eats what at what time in school, and I don’t even mean to be. You just kind of realise “Oh she didn’t eat lunch yesterday and she mentioned she doesn’t eat breakfast- she must be recovering today”. Recovering, aka, paralysed and shaky and cold in bed.
I think the ‘root’ cause is no longer social media to be honest. I think it has grown way out of control, and let me show you with a conversation with my friend H.
H: Damn we can’t use my laptop, I’m grounded so I got it taken off me.
Me: No way! Why?
H: Ugh, I just yelled at my brother.
Me: Which one? D (is 12 years old) or S (who is 8)?
Me: Oh what did he do?
H: He called me fat again.
Me: Wait, your 8 year old little brother called you fat?!
H: Yep. Not for the first time.
Me: I’m sorry honey, but he’s a bit of a f******d. What the f**k is he on about? (yes I do swear in my daily life, I’m British and a teen, c’mon.)
H: I dunno, he’s just been saying that a lot recently.
Let me give you some insight here by the way, H, I have known since preschool , she goes to an all-girls grammar school (I don’t because I’m not clever :P) and she. is. not. fat.
In no way.
She does ballet, and she’s tall and slim and is very active. So trust me. She’s not even a tad chubby. Yet, her 8 year old brother is calling her fat, so apparently she’s been restricting her diet recently, and that bloody horrifies me.
Yes, social media and the age where supermodels like Gigi Hadid and Cara Delevigne are ‘role models’ (note the quotation marks) may have been the root of low self esteem in teenage girls, but to be honest, these days, it’s way past that. These days it’s your friends, your family (for me) and your own messed up mind that’s the cause. Social media is just another factor, and concoct them all together- you have a little girl who is very likely to hate herself. Another reason is, in my eyes (because it is the reason I restrict my food) is the need to be perfect.
Today, the pretty, thin, clever girls are at the top of the school food chain. The strive to be perfect is a bigger cause of EDs and depression than adults and the NHS think. You must get the perfect grades, and be the perfect friend, and be the perfect daughter/son, and you need to be physically perfect and you need to be liked by everyone and you must must must fit in.
That is how today’s school life works. To be cool you have to have good grades and on the netball team: if you’re not, well who are you?
This is of course, not my opinion. I completely revel in the fact that I am a nerd, but, if given the choice to be able to play netball and be part of the ‘popular’ crowd, I’d take it in a heartbeat. Pfft, ‘popular crowd’? It needs to be renamed the ‘perfectionista’s’. (Totally a made up word and totally something that would be in a YA book, but it’s true.)
Now ladies and gentlemen and everyone in between, I welcome you to the ‘my experiences’ section of this post.
Age 10- called ‘fat’ by my classmates, and had a name made up about me which I will not repeat on here.
Age 11- mocked by my mum and aunt at a family gathering, so when photo time came, I sucked in my stomach and stood on my tip-toes so I’d look thinner.
Age 12- poked at by Japanese grandmother saying ‘I’m too chubby’.
Age 13- told by my English grandmother that ‘if you can pinch an inch you need to lose some weight darling’.
Age 14- told by my little sister that my legs are too fat and I should lose weight off my knees.
Age 14+ – obsessed with the ‘pro-ana’ section of Tumblr.
- Makes a 16 year old internet friend who encourages me to stop eating.
- Gets into girl kpop groups and models myself on them, ignoring the fact that they are forced to lose weight themselves.
Hooray. Now that’s done, let’s talk about it.
As you can see, social media didn’t play a massive role in my life until the early teens. Instead, it was the role of family and classmates that had the biggest impact on me.
Now here’s a conversation that I had with my school nurse a couple of weeks ago.
Me: So recently, I’ve been having some difficulties eating.
SN: Oh really?
Me: Yeah, just recently I don’t feel like eating.
SN: Hmm… what star sign are you?
Me: Um star sign? Pisces I think.
SN: That must be it then. Pisces overthink too much. You just have to learn to eat healthy.
SN: I guess we’re done here then, correct? See you next week!
Insight: she hasn’t seen me since.
Rant: YES I’M NOT KIDDING SHE SAID IT WAS BECAUSE I WAS A FREAKING PISCES.
Now reader, you may be thinking, ‘can’t you report that?’. The short answer is.. no. For reasons being that my family already walk on eggshells around me (I have a history of self harm and my house tutor tried to be helpful and told them) (House tutor like the teacher responsible for your house, think of Mcgonagoll from Harry Potter, but slightly less senior). Also what could they possibly do about it? And how would reporting the school nurse help? I know she’s been vaguely beneficial to my classmates, so I can’t just have a tantrum over it and be selfish- I’m not her only ‘patient’ after all.
So there you go. The reality of a teenage girls life. (sorry it’s slightly depressing and doesn’t have a proper point quite yet_
Part 2 out soon (tomorrow, 3 pm UK time) stick around!
ALSO DON’T WORRY YOURSELF ABOUT ME! I’M TRYING TO RECOVER I’LL BE FINE!!
Tell me your thoughts in the comments, they’ll be greatly appreciated, no matter what your experience or opinion is.
Love from Emma