Eating Disorders Part 1: More than Just One Narrative

Eating Disorders Part 1: More than Just One Narrative

By: Abby Erasmus

Eating disorders don’t discriminate; about 1 in 7 male individuals and 1 in 5 female individuals experience an eating disorder by age 40. Girls as young as 8 or 9 are walking into the doctor’s office with cases of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other types of eating disorders. Individuals regardless of race, class, gender, religion, and sexual orientation can suffer from an eating disorder (ED). EDs are an extremely serious matter; they have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. Keeping all of this information in mind, it is extremely important to understand and acknowledge that EDs affect all demographic groups and can manifest differently within these groups. Different demographics have complex histories with different cultural backgrounds that can affect how one displays an ED, and why a group develops one. Because people are unaware that different demographic groups experience EDs, stigma often surrounds their diagnosis by both people within their community as well as outside the community. Knowing that EDs have the highest mortality rate, it is our responsibility to reduce the stigma by disseminating information about how EDs affect a wide variety of populations.

The typical narrative of an ED tells the struggle of a white, straight, cis- gender woman. This population does experience EDs, and it’s extremely important to provide them with appropriate help and support; however, this typical narrative leaves out the experience of many other groups of people with EDs and why different demographics might development them. In reality, the rates of EDs are about the same across demographic groups in the United States, but because one narrative is told, other groups are significantly less likely to receive treatment. In a series of blog posts, I will discuss how EDs affect different populations: Black women, the LGBTQ community, Asian American women, Latina Women, and men in general.

If you or someone you know is seeking therapy for an eating disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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