The Vagenda

Anorexia Was My Problem, But It’s Also Yours


When I went to pick up my pills for the first time, the woman at the pharmacy counter gave me a queer look. Frowning, she asked me to confirm my full name, address and date of birth. Once I’d nailed that test, she asked, “Are you picking up these tablets for someone else?”
“No,” I replied, wondering what her deal was. 
“Are you sure this is the prescription your doctor meant to give you?”
“And…do you know what these pills are meant to be treating?” she asked, suspiciously.
“Because…you know, they’re usually given to really old ladies,” the woman continued, in her loudest and least tactful voice.
“Yes, I know I do have osteoporosis, thank you,” I barked, and snatched the bag out of her hand, then scurried out of the door accompanied by the stares of everybody else in the queue behind me.
I am 22, and I have osteoporosis in my spine and hips: a bone disease generally reserved for post-menopausal women. I haven’t menstruated in living memory and the hormones in my body come from taking the pill alone. I cry in longing, shameful fear at the thought of pastry or French fries or mayonnaise. And all this because I thought I would never end up being one of those girls that became anorexic, and then it snuck up behind me while I wasn’t looking.
I went to an all-girls’ school, which was a veritable pick-and-mix of eating disorders, from the bog-standard regulars to the diabulimics to the people who ate nothing all day except for a single whole baguette just because they were kooky like that. Our year group in particular was exceptionally thin. But I was one of the chubby few: the porky, food-loving girls who didn’t really care, knew weight worries were shallow and pointless, and were certain we would never let those kinds of thoughts get the better of us. We were feminists and knew that eating disorders were symptoms of a social ill which we were not going to allow to better us; we knew it was more important for us to study hard and become intelligent, interesting people. We also loved cake and chocolate digestives too much to care about any of it. And our parents loved us for being stocky, reliable, proper gals who weren’t going to be a problem and had nice, child-bearing hips for future grandkids. 
But a bullet-proof jacket cannot withstand a bazooka. Within the final few years of school and the first few years of university, I was surrounded by girls and magazines and TV figures and friends and enemies who were all thinner than me and all freaking out about weight and diet. One of my first relationships literally featured the following exchange:
“I feel uncomfortable with people touching my hips. I’m too fat for it.”
“Yeah, well, you make up for it in personality!”
By the time I was cooking my own meals and living a semi-independent life, I had truly lost it, and decided that it was time to go for broke and lose all that weight the world wouldn’t let me forget I was lugging around. Almost every meal was an enormous bowl of iceberg lettuce, and I would allow myself a large carrot for an afternoon snack, although the guilt of it made me agonise for hours afterwards. I loathed myself and punished myself for every mouthful I consumed. I wept for all of my favourite things that I would never again eat. I began to isolate myself from my friends and pinch parts of myself every few seconds in astonished rage at the meat I still had on me. I lost about two and a half stone. I realised I hadn’t had my period for a year and a half. I went to the doctor. And that is where the actual pain of anorexia began.
After several botched blood tests and one final success (yaay, can I lie down now please), we determined that my glands were all working fine and that it was the dietary restriction that was causing the problem. My doctor referred me to an eating disorders clinic and booked me in for a high-tech bone scan, just to check that things were in order. At the clinic, I had a two-hour ‘assessment’ session that required me to tell the entire story of my problem in razor-sharp detail until I couldn’t breathe through my tears. They then informed me that I wasn’t yet ‘thin’ enough – 0.4 points over the threshold for BMI – to actually qualify for treatment, so I would have to be put on a lonnnnngggg waiting list. I went to see my university counsellor, a lovely mum-like lady who told me that a big salad with nothing but lemon juice for dressing was a completely acceptable meal, and not to worry about being fat because ‘lots of boys love a Ruben-esque figure’ (seriously). I carefully asked my mother if I could see a private person which involved another two-hour ‘assessment’ with the same process of reliving my agony, except with the added bonus of the psychiatrist telling me off for being a silly girl and damaging my own body and then charging me 95 precious quid for that pleasure. Finally, the results of the bone scan came through – and just before Christmas, my doctor called and told me that I had osteoporosis. 
That was the real punch in the teeth. I was aghast at myself – how could I, an intelligent and independent and confident and not-particularly-vain girl, and, need I mention again, a feminist, have done this to myself? How could I, directly and purposefully, have messed up my skeleton to the point that I would end up with a hunchback in my fifties? What a fool I had been! If you look anywhere in the media, anorexics are troubled, vulnerable pubescent girls or hyper-vacuous celebrities who end up looking so spider-like that they get carried into hospital in a padded envelope. I just looked a bit ill, and was a bit more ill on the inside. I was over the BMI threshold, I was doing ok at university, and so I didn’t count. That’s probably why no-one reacted, and why my father and siblings simply made jokes about ‘fad diets’ and ‘fear of chips’ at dinnertime when I eventually plucked up the courage to tell them. My family encouraged me to keep this all a secret from everyone else to stop other people ‘talking’.
And in the end I gave up. I stopped having therapy and started just dealing with things on my own, in private and in secret. And I am still far from being better, because even wanting healthy bones isn’t enough to stop me clinging on to the thin dream. Every day, I am furious at myself for having given myself this cruddy skeleton by succumbing to something as ‘vacuous’ as an eating disorder. But this is also the point: the problem with eating disorders is that the people who develop them are not vain, or stupid, but simply crushed by the pressure around them to listen to the vanity and stupidity. 
We are told 24/7 that even if we as women value ourselves based on our achievements and character, the rest of the world – especially those who might potentially have sex with us – will not. The rest of the world wants even astrophysicists to look like Mad Men secretaries. And that is why I don’t give a damn about my first-class degree and the fact that I graduated top of my subject. I will tell you I am proud, and I will put it on my CV, but really I would trade it in a second for a flat stomach and slim thighs. And truly, I would trade the degree, and the grade, and the stomach, and the thighs, for a skeleton and a uterus that work properly. 
An eating disorder is not one person’s disorder; it is our society’s disorder. We need to stop telling girls to be thin and lithe and carb-free, and we need to prize our intellectual and powerful women like true heroes rather than curious little pseudo-Thatcherite oddities of history. We have to stop celebrating strong women while also mocking their bingo wings. We need everyone to rejoice in the love and friendship and balance that we experience every day when we eat food with others or alone, rather than treating it like woman’s worst enemy. 
Because there’s no point in raising girls to be clever in modern western society, and then expecting them to be safe; pushed hard enough, the sad truth is that any girl with a brain will eventually put it towards calorie mathematics.

38 thoughts on “Anorexia Was My Problem, But It’s Also Yours

  1. ‘Pushed hard enough, the sad truth is that any girl with a brain will eventually put it towards calorie mathematics’ – this sentence may not of been being totally serious but it offends me as an intelligent woman. I have never counted calories, I just eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. Your story is touching and sad – and the woman at the counter sounds like a total bitch -, but the average female size in the UK is a 16. Yes many girls feel pressured and some become anorexic (I know 3 personally) but there is an obesity endemic in this country not an anorexia one! And that is what should be focused on.

  2. To the person posting above this: Seriously. No. Just, no. Not the time, or the place.
    This post has shocked and saddened me and will stick with me for various reasons. I think I had a similar school background to you and I can testify to your description of the conditions. High achievers breed this competition (and from your excellent grades I’d guess you’re a high achiever too). And while I didn’t succumb to anorexia, I did self-harm and I massively regret that too. Permanent damage to your body in pursuit of perfection, social acceptance, or in my case a release for pain is upsettingly rife; crash diets that tread the fine line between eating disorder levels of required control (and yes, I do know how simplistic that view is). I don’t count calories, BUT I’ve long associated certain foods with guilt and justify every meal I eat, even now, with either some form of exercise or a mentality of hatred towards my body. It’s a long, bitter battle for acceptance. I don’t call myself an obsessive calorie counter, only because I know full well if I ever started, I doubt I’d be able to stop.
    Sorry, I’ve made this about me. You have my support, sympathy, and appreciation for writing this story, and delivering the final few paragraphs with such force after the tough telling that came before.

  3. Thanks for this post. I’m in recovery from anorexia at the moment and can really identify with the sentence ‘several botched blood tests’ (this is my blogpost about the time it took eight attempts to get my blood during inpatient hospital treatment and the bit about all girl high schools. Oh and the bizarre advice from some healthcare professionals!

    I think it’s also good to point out that the media isn’t entirely the cause of anorexia nervosa (although it is horrendous and has a big part to play in making both anorexics and non-anorexics miserable). Firstly because not all anorexics think they’re fat; a lot know they’re underweight and look terrible but the anorexic rules that have been made are too strong to break. Secondly, genetics has a big part to play – see Carrie Arnold’s blog for more details.

    Yes there is an ‘obesity epidemic’ but that doesn’t mean anorexia is any less prevalent or destructive to both individual health and society as a whole.

  4. ‘I have never counted calories, I just eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full.’

    Well done. This is totally the right forum to congratulate yourself on your exemplary eating habits.

  5. Also @thevelvetribbon:

    You may consider yourself to be an “intelligent woman,” but you are also exceedingly wrong.

    It’s a fallacy that there is an “obesity epidemic” in either the UK or the US. There has only been a modest increase of about 14lbs to the average population weight, which is easily explained by a higher ageing population, a decrease in smoking, and an average increase in height. But for argument’s sake, let’s assume that there is still an unexplained increase in weight. Believe it or not, this would not nullify an increase in eating disorders.

    I’d actually argue that there WAS, in fact, an anorexia epidemic (not endemic, as you put it), but it was being masked by the flawed inclusion of the BMI as a necessary symptom for diagnosis, according to the DSM-IV-TR (look it up). It makes two VERY faulty assumptions: 1) It assumes that you can only be anorexic or have an eating disorder if you are below a certain weight, even though this is categorically untrue. Hell, that was half the point of the author’s story; she clearly had an eating disorder but was denied a diagnosis and treatment because she was still a “healthy weight.” 2) It assumes that the BMI is an accurate measure of healthy weight, despite the reams of research proving otherwise. The BMI system was never designed to be used as a definitive marker of weight. And yet, this incredibly flawed measure was used as a reason to exclude the author from treatment. I would bet good money that, if the DSM dropped the BMI criteria, you WOULD see a “sudden” increase in eating disorders.

    So no, just because the average female size in the UK is a 16 does NOT mean many of them are not either dieting or struggling with an ED. In fact, many dieticians and GPs ENCOURAGE eating habits that would be considered “disordered” in a thin person. Like eating only ~1000 calories a day or less and exercising 1+hours/day. This is unhealthy and dangerous, but DOCTORS prescribe and encourage it. Let me repeat: Doctors encourage eating disorders.

    Congratulations on apparently having a healthy relationship with food, but that does not make you better or more intelligent than those who do not. I’d wager that you are relatively thin, and thus assume that if everyone ate as you did, they would be thin as well. If nothing else, I imagine that you have not been in the critical eye of the public every time you dared to put a bite of food in your mouth.

    Society screeches in protest at anyone who dares to be over a UK size 10, particularly women, whose value is STILL equated primarily to their looks. It doesn’t matter if she worked her way through school, earned a PhD, is happily in a relationship and volunteers on weekends. She’s not considered to be accomplished and have her life together unless she is also thin. Now THAT is a problem. And that is what should be focused on.

  6. Don’t you think that if there was less focus on appearance and weight in general people wouldn’t develop complexes about it? These complexes can affect people in different ways, causing them to under-eat or over-eat. I would say that is a big contributing factor to both problems.

  7. It makes me so angry when people try and dismiss eating disorders as something that silly, vain girls do to lose weight – Hannah’s right, it’s much, much more complicated than that. I also went to an all-girls school and looking back a lot of us (myself included) had, if not full-blown eating disorders, then a badly distorted attitude towards food and towards themselves. It was as if self-hatred was contagious.

    Anorexia kills more people than any other mental illness out there and deserves to be taken seriously. We need better, more consistent help for people with mental illnesses in general, but for disorders like anorexia it’s so important to catch it early because as your story demonstrates, the longer it continues, the harder it is to recover and the more health problems it causes in the interim time. I wish you all the best for the future, I hope that you do recover and can find support from more knowledgeable and understanding sources.

  8. I also relate to this hugely, so thank you.

    I’m interested that both the author and Hannah above mentioned the blood test thing. I passed out many times when having my blood taken in hospital, waking up disoriented and screaming/crying. They’d then immediately try again, I’d pass out immediately, wake up crying, rinse, repeat until I stumbled off to my room asking why they were trying to torture me. I’m surprised there’s no real warning to the nurses or the patient that this is likely to happen when you try to take blood from people’s whose blood pressure is, as my psychiatrist described it ‘that of a snail’.

    I also had the same experience with being turned away for treatment originally because I wasn’t thin enough. When I came back a while later quite dramatically below their mysterious threshold, I was given a leaflet and told about a self help group. By which point my organs were failing and I could barely see or walk. Thanks, doctors! So much more needs to be done to help people earlier on in eating disorders. It’s just baffling how bad some of the treatment is.

    I wish you the best of luck in recovery. It might feel like you’ll never feel normal again, but you can. There are too many articles saying that anorexia is something you’ll have to live with, that it’s like alcoholism or another addiction and it will always be there. That’s just not true. I can honestly say I don’t think about food or weight anymore, apart from a bit before each meal when I’m deciding what to eat. It’s possible to get to a place where you don’t have to worry or count or plan or anything. I really hope you reach a point where you can look back at how you feel now and just feel baffled by how strange it all was.

  9. ‘pushed hard enough’ was the operative part of the sentence here, non???
    I’m very happy for you that you don’t suffer an eating disorder, and I hope you never will, but the point was that it COULD happen to anyone, yes, even an intelligent woman such as yourself. What exactly offends you?

  10. I’m so glad that you’ve said it’s possible to recover entirely from anorexia; I agree that it seems like all the articles I ever read say that it’s just something that’ll always be there.

    It’s worrying to think that there’s such a lack of knowledge in the healthcare profession – it doesn’t bear well for wider society as demonstrated by the first comment. I wonder if it’s something eating disorder charities are addressing?

    I realised I forgot to add my best wishes to the author too. Thinking of you!

  11. AIDS and HIV are a huge issue throughout the world, should we stop caring about the measles problems that have come up since people stopped getting the MMR jab?

    Seriously, the world can have more than one problem at a time and more than one epidemic at a time. Some people face a problem with obesity, should we ignore the people who suffer from anorexia then until we’re all skinny?
    This one story focuses on the problem of anorexia, nowhere does it say “we should ignore obesity as an issue and we should all aim to become obese.” so why are you acting as though anorexia should be ignored?

  12. Calling myself intelligent wasn’t meant to sound arrogant, patronising or ‘above’ those with eating disorders, I meant I am educated to degree level and therefore consider myself fairly intelligent (NB: why is it that in this country if anyone gives themselves the slightest bit of praise it’s considered arrogant, I didn’t say I was Einstein). Statistics predict that if current eating trends continue in the UK, half the population will be overweight by 2030 (I read that in the Guardian not the Daily Mail, but didn’t research the statistics or anything), and I consider this estimate to be a bigger problem than anorexia statistics.

    I didn’t insinuate that people should stop focusing on anorexia/EDs just because obesity is a larger problem. I do not believe anorexia COULD happen to anyone, it is a mental disorder. I also didn’t mean to ‘boast’ about my eating habits by stating that I never calorie count – that’s just how I eat.

    This probably was an inappropriate article to post my comment on – but it’d just be embarrassing if I deleted my first comment now – this story is very sad and I know many women relate to it. This issue just frustrates me because I find it so hard to understand and I personally – and a lot of my close friends – do not feel pressure to be skinny. To the poster who asked about my weight I’m about 5,3/5,4 ft and wear a size 6-10 depending on what shop I’m in (I can’t tell you my weight because I don’t know it). I agree society focuses on the weight/appearance of women, what I don’t understand is why women pander to these beliefs. I am sure I will now get criticised for not understanding as I’ve always been a slim size, I went through my own insecurities as a teenager and tried fad diets but just grew out of them. I wish other woman could do the same, ignore what society calls them on and congratulate themselves for other achievements that have nothing to do with appearances.

    Also to the ‘Confessions of a…’ poster, don’t try and offend me by telling me to look up what the DSM is, I studied Psychology for a year, including a module on Anorexia.

  13. obesity IS an issue, and we kid ourselves if we think that most women of UK 16+ are healthy. Some are, yes, and genetics/slow metabolism does not allow them to be any thinner, but have you people even seen the SHIT people eat? Processes unhealthy chemical-ridden “food.” Not to say that there aren’t skinny people who eat unhealthily (because we all know there are tons). The point is, our society not only idealizes only a few body shapes, but promotes a very unhealthy lifestyle of either attaining (fad diets, restrictive eating, etc) that body type or “eating your feelings” as they say…

  14. My heart goes out to you, it really does. This bit:

    “At the clinic, I had a two-hour ‘assessment’ session that required me to tell the entire story of my problem in razor-sharp detail until I couldn’t breathe through my tears. They then informed me that I wasn’t yet ‘thin’ enough – 0.4 points over the threshold for BMI – to actually qualify for treatment, so I would have to be put on a lonnnnngggg waiting list. I went to see my university counsellor, a lovely mum-like lady who told me that a big salad with nothing but lemon juice for dressing was a completely acceptable meal, and not to worry about being fat because ‘lots of boys love a Ruben-esque figure’ (seriously). I carefully asked my mother if I could see a private person which involved another two-hour ‘assessment’ with the same process of reliving my agony, except with the added bonus of the psychiatrist telling me off for being a silly girl and damaging my own body and then charging me 95 precious quid for that pleasure.”

    …really resonated with me. I suffer from depression, but I’ve had very similar problems – not being suicidal enough, not being taken seriously, being messed around in a REALLY UPSETTING way.

    Beat wishes. I hope you get better soon.

  15. You didn’t sound arrogant for saying you were smart; that’s exactly the kind og thing you SHOULD be patting yourself on the back for. The problem was implying that your smarts insulate you from eating disorders. That’s exactly the attitude that the author admits to having had previously, and being proven wrong on.

    If someone says “There are lots of cats that have tails, but here’s some empirical evidence that not all do” the reply “well I have a cat that has a tail and I’m offended at the suggestion that it might not” is both bizarre, and a bit rude.

  16. This is a brilliant, brave article, with some seriously important truths in it.

    Best of luck with your ongoing recovery. Hopefully it helps to know that at least this portion of the internet/society think that you’re wonderful, with no idea of what you look like, and just your insight and courage to go on.

  17. Thank you for this post – it is an incredibly painful subject for many, but it *needs* to be written in my opinion.
    Anorexia nearly destroyed me; an illness that weakened my once strong and healthy body, isolated me from my friends, and had me trapped within an asphyxiating chokehold of self-loathing. Although in the past year I have managed to bring my BMI back up to 18.5 from 13, and narrowly escaped sectioning – it remains as a facet of my past that is very difficult to discuss. So many health services will condemn the anorexic, retaliating to remarks such as ‘Why can’t you be like everyone else and just eat a McDonalds Burger?’ (true story O.o) – but the point is that so often the illness is reduced to its physical manifestation, whereas the dire psychological battle that many anorexics will experience is sometimes overlooked. Every ED is different,but often it is not about a desire to be thin, rather a way of taking ‘control’ over one’s body – a coping mechanism that smothers the underlying nucleus of the problem…. just like someone with a compulsive eating disorder may turn to food for comfort, or as a means of surpressing emotion – equally for the anorexic food (or the denial of) arguably plays a similarly symbolic role…. that said, the idealised air-brushed images of the young, thin women that pollute every cityscape, internet site and newsagent stand do not help to spread a body positive image. As other comments have mentioned they are incredibly damaging (both women and men, people young and old)… I wish for a society that promotes honesty and intellegence, creativity and acceptance – NOT spidery limbs that cannot open the heavy doors at a library, or spines so weak that one cannot sit down in a seminar…how can we learn if society constantly teaches us to be sick?

  18. thevelvetribbon, I’ve seen your postings on other articles and you seem to have the same issue with all of them: if you don’t succumb to the issue being discussed, you are incapable of understanding why anybody else does.

    It’s fantastic that, for you, influences of the media and societal expectations are like water off a duck’s back. I applaud you for your sensible and considered approach towards not only eating but self-image; clearly you focus on the important aspects, and that’s wonderful. But just because you are able to do that does NOT mean that everybody else is too. I’m intrigued: if you look at Jessica Ennis doing an epic long-jump, do you think “well if she can do it, I can too”? As human beings, we are different, and our strengths and weaknesses vary widely. What I think you are struggling to understand is that you are not the norm: you are extremely unusual – in a good way, please don’t get me wrong – but you are the exception to the rule. The majority of women DO suffer, and DO have a fucked-up relationship with food and their bodies (whether it leads to obesity or anorexia; and the two are, I believe, linked at their core), and regardless of your personal experiences, that is a fact. You need to appreciate that the more people who say “but this is bullshit, I’m exposed to the same external influences and I’m totally fine”, the more advertisers, booking agencies, fashion houses, magazine editors, etc will use this argument to bolster their own. Strange as it may seem, you need to accept that your psychological standpoint is more advanced than everybody else’s and work out how you can help the rest of us to achieve this impressive armour-plating, rather than denouncing us as weak, or unintelligent.

    I too have a degree, I too studied psychology for a year (random, but true), and I believe that my emotional standpoint (messed-up relationship with food, periodic self-loathing) is far more common than yours. I envy you and your friends; I wish I were as unaffected as you. But please, don’t undermine your enviably superior position by devaluing the struggles endured by everybody else.

  19. I really don’t mean to undermine woman (or men) with eating disorders, or make them seem weak/less intelligent than myself and apologies if that was how my comment came across. Blogs are making me realise that I’m not the norm in my food attitude! I think it’s because my mum was never interested in dieting or appearances so it never made a huge impression on me.

  20. I also was not taken seriously, as I was, and am, doing pretty well at university, and was also 0.5 points above the BMI for being regarded as anorexic (I still menstruated although they were becoming lighter and lighter as my weight decreased). I was not severely emaciated and just looked pale and sickly, but inside my body was deteriorating . Luckily I have been in recovery for a year and am weight restored, but I am not sure if my recovery will keep on going well or if I will relapse, because I have had to do all of the recovering alone, bar the support of brilliant friends and family, and for most of the time, a wonderful partner (although we are not together anymore). Because I was never offered the professional support that I needed, I have always felt that I was not “sick enough” and this doubt still plagues me and sometimes tempts me to turn back on my recovery and “prove myself” to the health system, and to my eating disorder, that I CAN be sick enough to get the treatment that I deserve.

  21. Hm. What’s with the ‘pseudo-Thatcherite’ comment? If we’re going to “prize our intellectual and powerful women like true heroes,” wouldn’t an Oxford-trained chemist who became the first woman prime minister be quite a good place to start? Why are excessively skinny modern celebs a symptom of Thatcher?

  22. An excellent article: bravely and beautifully written. Thank you.

    Just with regard ot a comment above – that doctors actively encourage eating disorders – you may have come across some who do promote 1000 calorie a day diets but I can assure you that that is certainly not what is promoted at medical school, nor anywhere else on the medical curriculum as something applicable to the general publication. There are some exceptional cases in which this might be advisable, but such a regime would be entered into under supervision. If anything, the medical profession suffers from a lack of emphasis on dietary aspects of health, purely as a result of the wealth of other concerns that present more acutely. However, when faced with the fundamental lack of knowledge of good nutrition and activity levels that is often seen in general practice, I cannot help but feel that our society is becoming increasingly distanced from a ‘normal’ way of eating, and is constantly pressured by ideals of the perfect body on one hand, and constant promotion of cheap, processed and low-nutrient food on the other. Certainly some leeway on behalf of the government – perhaps subsidy of fruit and vegetables and promotion of locally grown produce – might help to remedy these issues, although I fear that this problem is too deep-roots to be easily solved.

  23. Thanks for the great article and for being brave enough to share.

    I wonder what experience people have of girls school v mixed school for body confidence/eating disorders? I ask coz my sister in law is thinking of sending my niece to a girls’ school, and if it’s a massively pronounced difference it will add to my reasons why she should attend a mixed one instead!
    Personally I was mates with loads of boys at school/college and remember a discussion where they talked about what they liked in girls, only one guy said he particularly loved skinny girls – to everyone else’s surprise, and the other comments were stuff like ‘likes video games’, ‘nice feet’, ‘doesn’t send long texts’, ‘good taste in music’ and a load of other random crap that made me realise there is no such thing as an ideal woman!

  24. Please check out my website at
    I completely beat my anorexia after it almost killed me. Now I want to help others to also beat their anorexia. Please publicise my site. Recovery is possible with the early intervention and the right kind of treatment. Simply refeeding sufferers is not the answer. Anorexia is primarily a mental illness and needs to be treated as such.
    If the incidence of anorexia in the UK has reached epidemic levels then this is due to a combination of factors. The NHS will not fund appropriate levels of funding. There is a tidal wave of ignorance about the causes of anorexia. It’s more convenient to blame it on images of super models rather than address the real causes. Until the focus of treatment moves away from weight gain to the psychological issues around anorexia then the incidence will grow as will the cost to the NHS. But as we are tied down to short term planning and outdated models of treatment then the future looks bleak in the UK for the treatment of all eating disorder.
    I live in an area that does not have any specialist eating disorders counsellors apart from myself and still the NHS will not accept any help from myself. The eating disorder service here in Derbyshire will not treat anyone who has a BMI over 15.!
    I have failed to access anorexics in my county simply because the system will not let me offer my services to them.
    Please share my website details with other sites and sufferers.
    Sent from my iPad

  25. From a purely scientifical point of view BMI is not a good statistical tool, it is not reliable because it does NOT detect women who do sport and have a high muscle mass. Those girls even if they weight normal according to charts might be undernourished. If a woman is not menstruating because she diets too much on her own and not for a disease… well she is anorexic, she fully qualifies. Lack of menses equates lack of nutrition/body fat which is not measurable on the scale.

  26. Thank you so much for this article. I was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis at 19 years old, due to anorexia starting at 11.

    This perfectly describes how I feel: “Every day, I am furious at myself for having given myself this cruddy skeleton by succumbing to something as ‘vacuous’ as an eating disorder.”

    Again, thank you for this article and I wish you the best in recovery.

  27. You’re an intelligent woman? Implying that those that suffer from body image issues/anorexia lack mental capacity? I don’t think so. It’s a mental disease. That’s like telling some one that they’re stupid because they have depression. Also, over eating is an eating disorder as well. So I would say that there is an epidemic.