We typically think of adolescence as the time of life when eating disorders have the potential to begin. But, as revealed in a moving essay published on Salon, nowadays it's not unheard of for kids as young as seven to develop dangerous, disordered eating behavior.
The piece, "My Anorexic 9-Year-Old," is one mother's story of discovering that her young daughter was starving herself, and how they worked together to overcome it. The author grapples with her own guilt, though she acknowledges that she did everything she could to raise a body-positive girl — shielded her from over-sexualized media images, didn't use the words "diet" or "fat," didn't force her to eat when she said she didn't want to. But, as she learned, eating disorders are more complicated than simply a behavioral response to the messages someone receives at home.
While an emotionally painful read, it's an important reminder that our culture's cult of impossible skinniness impacts even the tiniest amongst us. There's only so much we can do in our own homes to protect our daughters (and, as the piece notes, sons) from the messages they receive; it's going to take a change in attitude on a much larger scale in order to have an ED-free future. Continuing to have frank dialogues about eating disorders, like this essay, feels like an important step. (Salon)
photo: via jcpenney.