Earlier this year, YouTuber Eugenia Cooney took a social media break and sought help for her eating disorder. I was so relieved, and other’s were too. A picture was posted on Instagram of her new haircut, and Twitter exploded. The picture was shared everywhere as well as before & after comparisons, and comments about how great she looks now and how much healthier she is. The well meaning comments seem innocent enough, but it could actually be a trigger for her when she comes back on social media. The people telling her to eat a hamburger before weren’t doing her any favours, and the comments acknowledging that she gained weight aren’t either. Here’s what not to say to someone with an eating disorder:
Why it’s the wrong thing to say
Eating disorders are very manipulative, and something that would be taken as a compliment from someone without an eating disorder, such as “you look healthier’, could trigger someone with one. Your eating disorder can associate “healthy” with “fat”, and can make you want to relapse again.
Although before and after pictures tend not to bother me personally, because in the after photo people always look happier. They do trigger other people. There’s always a risk of someone who looks like the after, wanting to be the before, and using it as “thinspiration”. I wouldn’t recommend sharing those images.
How to Support Eugenia
Even though Eugenia may look recovered right now, anorexia is a mental illness. She will still be struggling with it for the longest time.
Being weight restored addresses the physical aspect of the eating disorder, but fighting the eating disorder voice is a harder battle. The eating disorder doesn’t magically disappear when you hit a certain weight. People still struggle and relapse after treatment.
If you want to support Eugenia, don’t comment on her weight. If she comes back to social media, and wants to act like nothing happened then go along with it. Don’t actively remind her that her body has changed.
I wish Eugenia all the best in her recovery. Recovery is the hardest thing she might ever have to do, but will be worth it.
Also, fuck Onision.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, I’d encourage you to seek help from the following resources:
- Bodywhys – firstname.lastname@example.org 1890 200 444
- SEED Eating Disorder Support Service – 01482 718130
- Beat – 0808 801 0677 (Helpline), 0808 801 0711 (Youthline), 0808 801 0811 (Studentline)
If you’re worried about Eugenia Cooney, you can watch Shane Dawson’s video on her eating disorder and recovery here.