When you hear the words ‘eating disorder’, what do you think of? A person with a restricted relationship to food, who is so obsessed with being skinny and end up loosing so much weight it almost kills them? You are not alone.
Most people’s perception of an eating disorder is what’s typical portrayed in media — that of, what resembles, a skeleton. What most people don’t know is that you can look perfectly healthy and still have an eating disorder.
Australian model and Instagram persona, Stephanie Claire Smith, shed light on this in a recent YouTube video where she talks about her personal struggle with ED. If you scroll through her Instagram profile, she looks healthy, fit and happy. You would never be able to tell on her body that she struggled with the disease. But as she talks about in the video, even though her binge eating resulted in a bit of weight gain, the real battle was the mental toll of it.
Out of the 914 000 people living with EDs in Australia, majority are battling binge eating or Orthorexia Nervosa — disorders where, more often than not, there aren’t any visible symptoms. But this shouldn’t mean it is less valid of a disease. Like any other ED it puts you in a vicious cycle of self-loathing, depression and isolation. It might not look like the ‘traditional’ eating disorder on the outside, but will still be the source of excessive mental restrain and exhaustion.
There hasn’t been much open discussion around the issue, maybe because it hasn’t been classified as “severe” enough. But just as with other mental illnesses, it is important to remember that people’s battles are not always visible.