On behalf of Project HEAL, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that raises funds to provide treatment scholarships to those suffering from eating disorders who are unable to afford treatment, I would like to respond to your recent blog post titled "5 Reasons to Date a Girl with an Eating Disorder." (The website's publisher has since defended the post.)
It seems you spent quite a while concocting this piece of literature, and it is fairly obvious to us that you did so to elicit a reaction. It is against our very nature to respond to these types of cowardly outcries, as we are extremely tolerant of general ignorance and contrasting beliefs, and really hate to feed into your desperate plea for five minutes of internet notoriety. However, your exercising our freedom of speech has inspired us to do just the same.
That being said, however, we also have the right to remain silent. I had become quite adept at practicing this amendment over the course of my illness; perhaps I could give you a few pointers, hmm? After all, practice makes perfect. Eating disorders, however, do not make perfect. I know all too well. After all, I am recovering from one that spanned over half of my life. Silence nearly killed me, and it was due to fear of judgment as appalling as your own. In the past few years, I have encountered so many positive, good-hearted people that I thought maybe our society was on the upswing. Maybe eating disorders had, unfortunately, become so prevalent that, finally, people started to recognize these illnesses for what they truly are: deadly biological diseases to which no race, sex, religion, or class, has immunity. To our dismay, and after reading your garbage, it seems we have a long way to go still if this disease, which claims the lives of up to one in five who suffer, is still misunderstood as a cute, trendy habit that a young woman parades around like the "it" bag of the season, only to toss in a pile a few months later never to be seen again.
No. Just no. Since you have your heart set on finding a girlfriend who has a "good old-fashioned eating disorder," perhaps you should stake out one of our nation's many treatment centers specializing in treating this disease to court a patient who is just your type. Now, we don't want to ruin the surprise for you, but consider yourself warned: eating disorders are not sexy. And instead of the moderately weight-obsessed, self-disciplined, wealthy, good-in-bed, American dream, this is what you are more likely to find:
A woman (or man), whose preoccupation with his or her body is so extreme that even if he or she has a body you deem attractive, you might never have the privilege of being seen hand-in-hand in public, because isolation is one of the hallmark traits of an eating disorder. This person may or may not join you for dinner, and if he or she is willing to leave his or her house and join you for a food-related activity (unlikely), he or she will probably not be the cheap date for which you are hoping. As someone who has suffered, I can tell you that we are particularly good at hiding things, which means if your significant other is prone to restricting, he or she may very well order a pricey, elaborate feast only to push around the plate and keep your suspicions at bay. And if you're thinking he or she will pick up the tab using Daddy Warbuck's plastic, bear in mind that Project HEAL would not exist if all people suffering from eating disorders were incredibly well-to-do. Treatment is exorbitantly expensive, and rarely covered by insurance. So even if your love comes from money, his or her parents may still be strapped for cash trying to foot the bill which means, possibly having to take out a second mortgage, dipping into retirement savings, and no treating you to dinner. Sorry. And I really hope you don't enjoy your bedroom life too much, because for many eating disorder sufferers, all "pent up insecurity" is expended through starving, or bingeing, or purging, or all three, demolishing any trace of libido and leaving little left over for your sex life.
As satisfying as it might feel, we are not going to sit here and belittle you as you have done to the approximate 25 million men and women across the United States who suffer from an eating disorder, and the thousands of others who have tragically perished. Instead, we want to let you know that we truly feel sad for you that you have no empathy for those who struggle, and that you harbor the negative energy to compose such a malicious attack against such a large, diverse part of society. You seem creative and driven; it's disheartening to see those qualities go to waste on somebody who uses them improperly to hurt others.
As much as we wish we had never read any of this to begin with, I am somewhat disappointed the article has been removed. You deserve for this to be written in stone because if this is truly, truly how sick your perspective is, it would be extremely toxic for you to have future girlfriends, a wife, or a daughter, and they deserve to know how you really feel. And even if it was published solely to drive traffic to what appears to be a pathetic excuse for a blog, you deserve every bit of negative backlash that comes your way.
We hope you learn from this how much anguish you have caused your readers. Most of all, we hope you find an outlet to effectively deal with your own issues, of which there seem to be many, so that you no longer have to take a hit at a population of sick, vulnerable individuals to deal with your own inadequacy. We are much stronger than you think, and the only way we would ever date you is if you were auctioned off to us for charity, with the profits to benefit our treatment scholarship fund.
Christina Grasso is a writer, speaker, and activist living in New York, NY. Founded in 2008 by Liana Rosenman and Kristina Saffran, Project HEAL promotes awareness of eating disorders and raises funds to provide treatment scholarships for others who suffer. For more information visit www.theprojectheal.org.
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