Portraits of an Eating Disorder

Woman concerned about eating disorder Relapse Support

I can’t recall how many times I’ve made the following statement, “You can’t tell if someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them.” Honestly, as I write it yet again, I feel exhausted.

I think back to the years and years – pretty much most of my life – that I suffered in silence with bulimia nervosa, the deadly disease. Yet it wasn’t until I developed anorexia nervosa in my twenties that people began to take notice of my weight, and the reactions were either those of sheer panic or delight.

Sadly, having anorexia as a model brought me lots of superficial praise, not to mention more work than ever. Even many people outside of the fashion business told me that I had nothing to worry about because I “looked great.”

Shifting the Focus From Weight to Feelings

Australian-based photographer Jennifer Blau decided to take the focus off of appearance with eating disorder sufferers. She purposefully shot those who were at a societally acceptable “normal weight [1].”

Because eating disorders affect people at all shapes and sizes, Blau had a desire to tilt more on the message that it’s what’s on the inside that matters, as well as our feelings; society needs to be aware, educated, and sensitive to this message. Her exhibition is appropriately entitled “Just Ask Me How I Feel,” on display at Manly-Library [1].

Comments are disWoman reflection pondplayed underneath each portrait that reference the subject’s thoughts and feelings; one individual, for example, mentions that they don’t want anyone to make remarks about their weight, rather, they just want someone to ask how they feel.

Often with eating disorders, sufferers try to numb their feelings and past troublesome events, so opening up the conversation and allowing people in is a powerful thing in itself. On the other hand, concentrating just on feelings takes away the focus from appearances because, more often than not, society assumes that someone can only have an eating disorder if they are sickly thin, which is not the case.

When that happens, someone struggling with an eating disorder of normal or above weight can stuff their feelings down even further with food, feeling ashamed, depressed, even suicidal. Remember to take the focus away from weight and body shape to best support your loved ones in their eating disorder recovery.


Nikki_Dubose_2015 Web-6About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry.

Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr.

To find out more about Nikki, visit http://nikkidubose.com/.


[1]:  Crawford, K. & Bennett, R. (May 22, 2017). Eating Disorder Sufferers Plead: Just Ask Me How I Feel. Retrieved from http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/manly-daily/a-person-suffering-an-eating-disorder-might-present-well/news-story/44009cdc3a8fe8c90860ef13589c4273

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 19, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 19, 2017
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com