Warning: this post is about eating disorders.
Earlier this year, YouTuber Eugenia Cooney took a social media break and sought help for her eating disorder. This was a relief to me and I’m sure countless others. A picture was posted on Instagram of her new haircut, and Twitter exploded sharing the picture, before and after comparisons, and comments about how great she looks now and how much healthier she is. The well meaning comments seem innocent enough, but it could actually be a trigger for her when she comes back on social media and sees it all. The people telling her to eat a hamburger before weren’t doing her any favours, and the comments acknowledging that she gained weight aren’t either.
Eating disorders are very manipulative, and something that would be taken as a compliment from someone without an eating disorder, such as “you look healthier’, could trigger someone with one. Your eating disorder can associate “healthy” with “fat”, and can make you want to relapse again.
Although before and after pictures tend not to bother me, because in the after photo people always look happier, they do trigger some people. There’s always a risk of someone who looks like the after, wanting to be the before, and using it as “thinspiration”, so I wouldn’t recommend sharing those images.
Even though Eugenia may look recovered right now, anorexia is a mental illness and something she will still be struggling with for the longest time. Being weight restored addresses the physical aspect of the eating disorder, but fighting the eating disorder voice is a harder battle. The eating disorder doesn’t magically disappear when you hit a certain weight, and people still struggle and relapse after treatment. For someone, getting help was actually just getting force fed until they hit a certain weight and addressing the eating disorder as a mental illness left a lot to be desired.
If you want to support Eugenia, don’t comment on her weight. If she comes back to social media, and wants to act like nothing happened then you go along with it. Don’t actively remind her that her body has changed.
I wish Eugenia all the best in her recovery, it’s the hardest thing she might ever have to do, but will be worth it in the long run.
Also, fuck Onision.
If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, I’d encourage you to seek help from the following resources: