National Eating Disorders Association
People of Color

People of Color and Eating Disorders

People of Color and Eating DisordersEating disorders have historically been associated with heterosexual, young, white females, but in reality, they affect people from all demographics of all ethnicities at similar rates. People of color – especially African Americans – are significantly less likely to receive help for their eating issues.

The first time I heard about eating disorders, I was in middle school. Our health class watched a film on the dangers of extreme dieting, and the implications it could have on mental and physical health. I watched intently as the film portrayed the typical narrative of a middle-class Caucasian girl who was on a dangerous path toward starvation. At the time, it was inconceivable to me that I could ever develop an eating disorder. I was just an average sized African-American girl who loved food. 

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In honor of Black History Month, we are applauding some of the incredible members of the Black community who spread positivity one Instagram post at a time. Their messages of hope and love are inspirational to all people, regardless of skin color. 

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The beginning of February also marks the beginning of Black History Month, a time to remember pivotal events and people that helped shape the Black community. The countless accomplishments of the community would not have been possible without the unwavering efforts of many persistent and courageous individuals. Here are some examples of Black community members who are continuing to work towards making the world a more equal place through their words of hope and positivity.

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Eating disorders are often thought of as diseases that affect only young, white women; but in reality, they affect people from all demographics, including race, ethnicity, and culture. 

This Black History Month, we acknowledge how far the field still has to go in recognizing and treating eating disorders in people of color. Despite similar rates of eating disorders among all races in the United States, people of color – especially Black people – are significantly less likely to receive help for their eating issues.

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How much time do you have left here?

By “here,” I mean on Earth.  

Don’t be alarmed. 

I am simply asking you this in existential kind of way, a way that I hope will make you realize that the greatest gift you and I both have is time. 

Think about it. 

We each have only a certain amount of time here on earth. A certain amount of time to live out our best lives, to find out who we were created to be, and to tap into the beautiful gifts bestowed upon us to positively impact the lives around us and the greater world.

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Even if you haven't read any of her novels, you've probably heard of Margaret Wolfe Hungerford’s most famous quote, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” It’s a very simple way of explaining aesthetic relativism after all.

We see aesthetic relativism in modern society, like when a celebrity or classmate from high school is praised for being a great beauty but you don’t find them attractive at all.

In a broader context, countries experience this idea by developing their own beauty standards instead of following the same definition.

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The image of recovery, particularly online, has such a pristine filter on it. Take a look at the recovery tag on Instagram or Tumblr and you will see some very positive things, but it can also be intimidating and even discouraging. Some may see the colorful fruit display and green smoothie close ups as what recovery truly is. It is not. Not only is there a sanitized version of recovery, but it is also very whitewashed. 

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My​ ​body​ ​began​ ​to​ ​shake.​ ​It​ ​started​ ​at​ ​my​ ​core​ ​and​ ​radiated​ ​slowly​ ​outwards,​ ​like​ ​those concentric​ ​circles​ ​you​ ​might​ ​see​ ​in​ ​a​ ​tree​ ​stump.​ ​Or​ ​as​ ​a​ ​rock​ ​falls​ ​into​ ​a​ ​lake,​ ​the​ ​way​ ​each smaller​ ​ring​ ​chases​ ​the​ ​one​ ​just​ ​bigger​ ​than​ ​it.  

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We are nearing the end of Hispanic Heritage Month (also known as Latino Heritage Month), and although this month purports to celebrate and honor brown culture, it is a time that evokes feelings of dissociation for me. Yes, I am of Mexican-indigenous descent, and I genuinely appreciate recognition and celebration of people of the brown diaspora. I don’t, however, understand the logic behind the language used—Hispanic, Latino, Latinx—to describe a group of people that I have felt forced to identify with all these years. 

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