Thursday, Joy Behar of The View along with Michelle Collins, made some extremely insensitive and ignorant comments about eating disorders. The women were discussing Donald Trump’s recent weight loss, and Behar had the audacity to ask whether it was better to be anorexic or bulimic. Collins replied by saying, “Definitely bulimic, you get to enjoy the meal.” The women made light of the illness and trivialized the reality of living with these disorders. I was infuriated by these comments…but I didn’t initially intend on writing this post. However, I’ve seen hardly any coverage of these events, and that’s saddening. I became increasingly impelled to write this. Individuals struggling with eating disorders need voices, voices that extend beyond their own, fighting to break down stigma.
Dear Joy Behar, Michelle Collins, and The View,
Firstly, I have never seen your show. I have seen less than five minutes of an episode, and that was because Sara Bareilles performed during that particular show. You said that on Thursday’s show you were joking when you made comments about eating disorders. I love humor, but I did not find your comments funny. I do not know the show well, obviously, and I also do not know either of you, personally. However, there is something I know particularly personally, intimately, and in extensive detail. And that is life with an eating disorder. I have struggled with an eating disorder for around 8-9 or so years. I have numerous friends, young and old, who have struggled with eating disorders.
It makes me wonder, what is there to joke about when it comes to an eating disorder? Are you aware that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, around 30 million individuals in the US alone battle these disorders yearly, and that for females between ages 15-24, the mortality rate from eating disorders is TWELVE TIMES higher than any other cause of death? To me, that seems pretty serious. In fact, some cancers have a higher mortality rate, but there is no chance you would ask someone which cancer is better to have.
With my own experience, I am wondering where the humor is within my story. Is the humor in being in the ICU during summer break? Is it having to be fed through a feeding tube twice because of how sick you are mentally and physically? Is it sitting in a wheelchair because my heart is not strong enough? Is it having my family spend so much time, effort, and money in order to get me treatment? Is it spending Thanksgiving and Christmas at a residential treatment facility? Is it retelling the traumatic events I have suffered through, the ones that fueled my eating disorder, and still haunt me? Is it the fact that numerous times I have been close to death at the young ages of 20/21?
I am not saying these things to be dramatic, seek sympathy, or as a means of attention. I am saying these things because they are my reality. This is the reality that my family, friends, and I have had to navigate through. This reality, or realities that are very similar, is something that millions of people face every single moment. Some now face an even more painful reality…they are now putting their loved one to rest because, remember, eating disorders kill.
Jokes and humor are great. My friends, and family will tell you that I am a total goofball, and I love to laugh. One of the coolest parts of the human experience is the ability to enjoy ourselves through laughter. It is a truly beautiful thing. Laughter and jokes make us feel good…laughter and jokes are funny.
Eating disorders are not jokes.