I was extremely taken aback by the comments that took place in the “Nothing But Net” column in your Oct. 7 issue [“The Net At Night: Mocking the Internet’s Most Popular Searches,”] in which Glee star Lea Michele was referred to as a “90-lb. actress who wore a dress at the 2010 Emmys that looked four sizes too big.” The comments were uncalled for and derogatory. I understand this is a satirical column, but eating disorders are very serious things; I can tell you firsthand because I suffered with anorexia for more than five years.
In the article, the author suggests Lea Michele could really use some food. Eating disorders are not about the food. A lot of times, outsiders believe eating disorders are a choice, and if people just eat, they will get better. This is a common misconception. Eating disorders are just the symptoms of something deeper going on inside. It is customary for those suffering with an eating disorder to use food as a tool to deal with something in their life they feel the need to “control.”
Another comment that I quarrel with is the author’s suggestion that “if you’re not this skinny, you’re obese.” I struggled with this; when I was battling my eating disorder I believed there were only two choices: the choice of being completely emaciated and living my life in and out of hospitals, or the other choice of being obese.
In my mind, both of these choices included my feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. My thinking was black and white. I didn’t believe there was any choice or lifestyle in between. When I began to recover from my eating disorder I saw things in color. I realized that there is an in-between, a normal and healthy weight. I became more conscious of my thoughts and recognized that, yes, you have to be healthy, but an important thing is you have to be comfortable with who you are inside.
The media feeds us images that are doctored, but these celebrities are people, too. They face the very same pressures we do. Maybe Michele does weigh 90 lbs. But that is not how you describe someone. Michele is a person. Those struggling with eating disorders are people as well.
There is a stigma attached to eating disorders and it needs to stop! Eating disorders are not a choice. Many eating disorders may begin as a diet, but the behavior turns fast into a coping mechanism for dealing with an underlying issue. It is NOT a vanity issue. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of all mental illnesses. The negative comments need to stop, from outsiders as well as personally. Start a movement. Stop negative talk! We are all beautiful; we just need to believe it!
Ed. note: Liana Rosenman is 19 years old. Project HEAL (Help to Eat, Accept and Live) is a nonprofit organization she started with two other young women from Long Island, Becky Allen and Kristina Saffran, to raise money for people suffering with eating disorders who want to recover and cannot afford treatment, and to help those struggling with body-image issues from developing full-blown eating disorders.