How Weight Stigma Negatively Impacts Binge Eating Disorder

Woman Dealing With a negative body image

Australian photographer Jennifer Blau recently released a series of documentary portraitures to convey a powerful message about eating disorder sufferers: Mental illness does not discriminate based on weight.

In this eye-opening and powerful portrait exhibition titled, “Just Ask Me How I Feel,” Blau attempted to capture the reality of eating disorder sufferers while highlighting the dangerous stigma that continues to be prevalent about these mental health issues.

“I wanted to convey the message that it’s not how they look, it’s how they feel and for people to be sensitive to this,” Blau noted, describing the portraits of her subjects that suffer from eating disorders [1].

The Negative Impact of Weight Bias

The reality is that weight stigma continues to be a problematic issue in our culture, particularly for those who suffer from eating disorders like binge eating disorder. Although binge eating disorder continues to affect more people that anorexia and bulimia combined, many people sadly fly under the radar, often suffering in silence for years due to fear of shame or the stigma that surrounds this illness [2].

Woman dealing with Binge Eating Disorder

There are many misconceptions and stereotypes about binge eating disorder, including weight stigma. Many people wrongly assume that obesity is always associated with binge eating disorder. Other individuals who may be suffering with binge eating disorder might assume that if they are not underweight, they may not be “sick enough” to need help or treatment for disordered eating.

Both of these perspectives are examples of how dangerous weight stigma can be, especially for those who are struggling with eating disorders. The diagnostic criteria for binge eating disorder does not actually include weight, but rather highlights recurrent and persistent behaviors associated with binge eating.

Because of the severity of binge eating disorder, evidenced-based treatments are needed for effective interventions; yet, many are hesitant to come forward with their struggles, often because of the obstacles created by weight stigma.

Challenging Weight Stigma

In putting together her exhibition, artist Jennifer Blau seemed to understand the harm created by weight stigma, sharing, “Many people of normal weight have eating disorders like bulimia and binge eating but think they are ok because they compare themselves to the thin stereotypes.”

When it comes to binge eating disorder, it is crucial to understand that weight is not a defining factor. People struggle with this dangerous eating disorder at various sizes, shapes, and weights, and every person is deserving of access to appropriate treatment for recovery.

If you or a loved one has been affected by binge eating disorder but has struggled to connect to help, speak with someone you trust today. Your binge eating disorder recovery journey starts by taking a step in courage and knowing that you are deserving of healing.

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Contributing Writer for Eating Disorder Hope.

Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing,

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH and nutrition private practice.


[1]:  Daily Telegraph, “Eating Disorder Sufferers Plead: Just Ask Me How I Feel”, Accessed 23 May 2017
[2]: National Eating Disorder Association, “Binge Eating Disorder – Overview and Statistics”, Accessed 23 May 2017

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 2, 2017.
Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 2, 2017.
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