National Eating Disorders Association

Marginalized Voices Project - Untold Truths

Various Authors

The Marginalized Voices Project is a collaboration between the National Eating Disorders Association and feminist activist and editor of Everyday Feminism, Melissa A. Fabello. Together, we put out a call for stories that focus on underrepresented experiences and communities in order to create a platform for people to share what it means to suffer (and recover) from an eating disorder.

Mainstream media often portray eating disorders as a “young, privileged white woman’s disease.” We know this is simply not true - eating disorders affect people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, sexuality and ages.

While we could not share all of the stories submitted to The Marginalized Voices Project, we did choose six representations of the marginalized experience to share during NEDAwareness Week. It is our hope that by highlighting stories that challenge misconceptions from people of marginalized identities we can present the world with what the reality of most eating disorders look like.

Amber Gonzalez - On Larks, Laundry and Love

"Amber," my father began. I knew my small victory would be short lived.  "Please don't tell anyone about this. It's no one's business but our own."

I'm sure he wanted to say more. Something like, "You are a terrible human being for even needing to speak to a professional about our business. I don't even understand why you have such problems.  I grew up poor, the oldest of five, and I was in the military. I lived in Germany for four years.  All we had to eat growing up was frijoles and tortillas. And here you are, vomiting up the good food you have." Read More. 


Benji Young - Ready to Accept 

I live in poverty and I do not identify as a straight female, so when people noticed my strange behaviors, they were easily attributed to my class and gender identity. When I struggled with eating, people assumed that it was because I was poor. When I avoided going out for meals, they thought it was because I didn’t want to pick up the tab. When my mental health was questioned, no one asked if I was struggling with anorexia or bulimia. They asked if I was battling a drug addiction; it explained the tempers, the behavior changes, the isolation, the weight loss, the pale complexion, the fine hairs, and all the other symptoms that could have been attributed to an eating disorder if I were middle class. Read More.


Chani Coady - I Just Am

I have always heard that eating disorders are “white folk” diseases, especially from those who are not white. Or, if someone accepts that eating disorders may affect minorities, they're diseases that you acquire in your teen years or in your early twenties. They are rich people’s diseases. As a half-black, half-white, almost thirty-year-old woman who falls into the working class, I can tell you that those assumptions are simply not true. Eating disorders do not know age, race, or class. Read More.


Jasper Conroy - This Gendered Body: Living with an Eating Disorder and Finding My Voice as a Queer Nonbinary Person

 I thought that my hatred of my breasts and desire to make them disappear, along with my hips and thighs and anything else “womanly,” came from a desire to divert male attention while simultaneously punishing myself for not enjoying that attention, for not being straight. I can now see that there was more to it than that, that being seen as a woman and hating my breasts, wishing for a flat-chested, straight-hipped body — that was gender dysphoria. Starving myself was supposed to bring me closer to that teenage boy body I envisioned and make people stop viewing me as a woman, but it was also self-punishment. I was punishing myself for not being a woman although society said I was supposed to be, for not being a man although I was taught that was the only other option, and for not knowing who or what I was, but that there was definitely something wrong with me. Read More.

Florence C. - A Project in the Making

One day, during recess, my teacher called us to take role and file. "Your pants are gay!" someone shouted as I stood in line, while everyone laughed. "How?" I asked. I knew what gay meant and I somehow knew that, somewhere in this world, gay people existed. But I didn't know that it was bad, shameful, or something to be mocked. That day, I learned that it was: "Because they're ugly and they make you look fat." I looked down at my legs and stomach. My heart sank. I began thinking that being gay and being teased for my weight were somehow connected. Read More.

Melissa M. - The Things We Say

 I use a wheelchair for mobility and require assistance with basic living tasks, such as using the restroom. When the school nurse first began making comments about my weight, I tried my best to ignore what she was saying. In order to avoid hearing her complain about lifting me, I started limiting my school restroom breaks to once a day, which meant I also had to limit how much I drank during the day. As time went on and the comments did not stop, I began limiting my food too – I was already limiting how much I drank, so restricting my food intake became just as easy. Read More.

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