How does one deal with people in their lives who have eating disorders?

Offensive? Wows. I ike my friend a lot, but I’m not her shrink and have no obligation to spend MY lunchtime (in MY office) listening to her go on and on about food. She knows my stand and still happily comes to lunch. I support and care about her but don’t think indulging abnormal talk about food is helpful in the least.

And struggling with a mental illness doesn’t mean you get to be obnoxious. Maybe you missed the part that I’m a big woman? Her “I’m so fat” diatribe is offensive to ME; it (quasi-literally) puts me in the position of being the elephant in the room . . . and I think it’s sometimes purposeful.

This is a question I’ve spent a lot of time on because I teach gender studies (and I’m fat 'n happy).

Indulge me here, I’m goin’ anecdotal.

As the sole or one of a few lesbians every place I’ve worked, my women work friends are overwhelmingly hetero. I think the fat talk script is inculcated in girls very early. I’ll forego how this script is reinforced by our culture, as we all know this tune by heart.

IMHO, the script is leveraged as a way to bond with other women AND a way to passively-aggressively compete with other women (for men, to fish for compliments, and so on). Two women who are strangers can sit down for lunch and it’s damn-near guaranteed they’ll bond via fat talk. It doesn’t matter if they’re professionals or ditchdiggers, the script will be performed.

I don’t, of course, somehow live entirely outside of the fat feedback loop, but I’ve managed to be a big girl with loads of self-esteem and my sexuality “dismisses” me from performing some gender requirements.

Back to identity. Lesbians are, in general, far more accepting of bodies that would violate hetero norms. I rarely hear gay women do fat talk, the times I’ve encountered this talk it tends to be about body prep for athletic pursuits. To sum: fat talk is driven by a script that girls learn very early and it continues throughout their lives.

And don’t get me started on the weird flirting straight women do with me that’s kind of related to fat talk.

Read again, please. It is your post that is offensive, not the fact that you get annoyed.

ETA: For context, I think it would be just as offensive if she referred to you as “Horribly Fatty”.

I hear ya. I remember an old friend who probably weighed all of 120 pounds soaking wet complaining about her weight, and I told her to diet for five minutes and do a sit up. Gave her sister who had a genuine weight problem a good guffaw.

I went out with some of my lesbian friends last month, for one of their birthdays, and out of a party of like 20 I was one of the few heteros there. After the restaurant we went dancing. While I was driving home I was pondering why it was that I had felt so good and relaxed with this big group of folks I had just met. And how it was just as relaxing at the club as the restaurant. I realized that it was just an extremely non-judgemental group, at least when it comes to looks. Now, I know that my friends know how to be judgy bitches when you cross them but it comes to judging people on first appearance, it doesn’t happen. And they all seemed for the most part to be incredibly comfortable in their own skin too. (I’m super big girl, and my friends are the same. And most of their other friends are too.)


One reason this hetero girl likes to hang out with lesbians occasionally is that I don’t feel pressured to be a girly-girl and talk diets and make-up and all that other stuff I never “got”. They certainly aren’t angels, but they do seem more accepting of different types of women than mainstream society.

Oddly, I get along better with straight women and my BFFs have always been hetero. I’ve no 'splanation, it’s always been this way. The fat chat is the only thing I don’t like about my hetero squad. I know it’s a kind of ritualistic talk they bond over/measure one another with, but it makes my eyeballs roll back and touch my brain.

OP, I apologize about hijacking your thread.

Thanks everyone.

I really didn’t think there was anything I could really do about it. :confused:

Just wanted to make sure.

Not a eating disorder, but I have anxiety issues, and there really isn’t anything people can do about it. It can be hard to let it go and have normal conversations with people.

It’s taken a while to understand that others don’t have the magical solutions I was looking for.

There is a fine line between being supportive and enabling them. Supportive gives some comfort while the person is actively working on solutions themselves through therapy, self help groups or whatever.

Enabling them lets them blow off enough steam but doesn’t help them change.

I have an online friend? acquaintance? who also has anxiety issues, and she’s going through hell in her job and such. However, she doesn’t want to go back into therapy (it’s too hard), look for jobs (i don’t know if I can find anything) or take other steps. I’ve suggested she learn medication, do more exercise, learn to let go, etc. But she’s stuck where she is.

She can chat forever about what the bitch at work said that day to make her life miserable, but I just don’t want to go there if she’s not going to (or can’t) make changes. Love to support her if she were making efforts, though.

I have no advice, but I knew two women who died from anorexia. The first was in her mid-20s (and her father was a doctor) and she essentially starting digesting her heart muscle. The second was a former colleague of my wife’s and would brag about having a dry salad for dinner. I don’t know what she weighed, but she looked like a concentration camp victim and suddenly died in her 50s, presumably for the same reason.