An open letter to the author of the vile viral post 5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder from eating disorder counsellor Sarah Harry.
The New Daily has chosen not to link to the original post or name the website where it appears.
Hiding behind an anonymous online pseudonym are we? Brave.
I thought I might give you the professional take on your repugnant article that is currently going viral (14,000 ‘likes’ and counting). I know I am just adding fuel to your narrow-minded and distasteful fire but I couldn’t let the other side of your portrait go untold.
As a specialist clinician for more than 10 years I know something about eating disorders, or as you call them a “luxury reserved for only the most privileged members of the female race”. FALSE.
Serious mental illness is not a luxury, and anorexia (let’s be honest here, you are really only referring to this, the least prevalent eating disorder as you dismiss the others as potential “fatties”) is not a luxury reserved for women or the privileged. I have treated many men and seen many clients pro-bono as they sometimes cannot even afford the petrol or train ticket to get to my practice.
Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, what you are glamourising is in fact a leading cause of death in young women. Amusing now?
Let’s look more specifically at your top reasons to date a girl with an eating disorder.
1. You say: Her obsession over her body will improve her overall looks
I say: It’s very likely she will be so malnourished that her body will grow a thin dark layer of hair to desperately try to keep her warm (it’s called lanugo), but the hair on her head will start to drop out, her hair/skin/fingernails/bones may be brittle and dry and her teeth may decay. Her body will basically start to shut down and even sitting will be painful. Sexy right?
2.You say: She costs less money.
I say: Sadly this couldn’t be further from the truth. Eating disorders require specialist intensive help and often a team of clinicians. All very expensive stuff. And the meals you eat together (where she is so frantic with the worry and pain that eating brings)? They could very well be in a hospital. What fun!
3.You say: She’s fragile and vulnerable.
I say: This paragraph is pretty much an affront to women everywhere. You want “a tastefully insecure girl”. Good luck finding love or even a date now the internet knows you would stoop to taking advantage of someone so vulnerable.
4. You say: She probably has money of her own.
I say: I’m not sure where you get the well-researched statement, “There aren’t too many poor girls with eating disorders”. It’s simply a lie. Eating disorders affect all ages, sexes and socio-economic backgrounds. It does not discriminate, and neither should you.
5. You say: She’s better in bed.
I say: One of the very real side effects of malnutrition is a low or no libido so it’s very unlikely that your partner is really even thinking of sleeping with you (I know I wouldn’t be). People who are struggling with “pent-up insecurity, neuroses, and daddy issues” aren’t as you say “exceptional in the sack”, but in real emotional pain. No one is better in bed when they feel this horrible about themselves. Get a grip you coward.
If you or someone you love needs help or support please contact the EDV on 1300 550 236 or The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 33 4673.
Sarah Harry is the director and co-founder of RIPE, a Melbourne eating disorders treatment program.