13 Photos That Will Challenge Your Beliefs About Eating Disorders

Photographed by Mafalda Rakoš
Photographer Mafalda Rakoš' series and upcoming book, I Want To Disappear, presents 20 different women's struggles with eating disorders. Although her subjects may share specific conditions (bulimia or anorexia, for example), Rakoš says there's something specific about each of their experiences — and that very complexity is what drew her to document eating disorders in the first place.
"I get the feeling that almost everyone knows a person who is affected [with an eating disorder]," she says. "But still, the reasons why someone really falls into this illness lie much deeper."
Through her photos, Rakoš hopes to get below surface-level explanations for eating disorders, like body image, and reveal how her subjects (who she refers to as "protagonists") really feel about themselves and their bodies. "A lot of people said that [their eating disorder] somehow gives them orientation and a feeling of security in a society that is full of disorientation, pressure, and extremely high expectations," Rakoš says. In other words, body image is just one part of it.
Rakoš' work depicts eating disorders as all-consuming, complex, and addictive. By doing that, she hopes to encourage viewers to think about a widespread problem that's all too easy to ignore. "I think it's important for people to ask themselves what kind of society might encourage the development of a disease like anorexia or bulimia," she says. "Ideally, the book will trigger reflection about the world we live in, since it's surely not without a reason that this is a phenomenon that almost exclusively occurs in young people and women."
Click through to view a selection of the photos from I Want To Disappear.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.

More from Body

R29 Original Series