My first understanding of eating disorders came from school. Unfortunately, an all-girls private school is the perfect environment for an affliction like Anorexia to flourish. I still have upsetting memories of a student returning to campus after extensive treatment with a small tube in her right nostril and thick fluff covering her forearms – it was a lot for my thirteen-year-old self to make sense of. I’m not saying eating disorders are limited to teenagers of a certain socio-economic group (this is a mental illness that statistically do not discriminate), but there’s undoubtedly a psychological trigger that is pulled when a young girl finds herself overwhelmed by a pubescent body she doesn’t recognise and cultural expectations of beauty that didn’t exist for her only a few years prior.
I hadn’t given much thought to this topic in adulthood, mostly because it’s not something that we see or talk a lot about; discussions of Anorexia are almost always limited to girls under the age of 18 and diet culture in general conflates thinness with wellness.