The Unspoken Bond: Bullying and Eating Disorders
Trigger Warning: Mention of Eating Disorders
Bullying is a common childhood experience that has long-lasting psychosocial repercussions.The harmful effects of bullying have received more attention in recent years, bringing up a new conversation with one's personal implications as bullying has been found to strongly contribute to the onset of eating disorders and can results in lower self-esteem, social isolation, and poor body image, anxiety and PTSD symptoms. In fact, up to 65% of those who have eating disorders state that bullying contributed to their condition.
What do those who are feeling these uneasy emotions want? Comfort.
Unfortunately, a lot of people find it challenging to practice adaptive coping methods when experiencing severe emotions like anxiety, sadness, or guilt, and may start to engage in eating disorder behaviour's as a result.
In children and adolescents who have suffered bullying because of their size or form, eating disorders are much more likely to develop. This may create a rise in false beliefs- which are frequently accompanied by fears of gaining weight, becoming "fat," or failing to achieve the ideal shape and size.
According to the most recent study, eating disorders generally begin among children between the ages of 10 and 12 years and Bullying begins at the age of 4 years, stating that between 9-15 years of age the impacts of bullying are at its peak.
Bullying victims had a higher chance of developing anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and related symptoms during childhood and adolescence and these eating disorders can go on for a lifetime if not treated. Bullying frequently co-occurs with unhealthy eating.
Reasons Bullying can influence Eating habits:
-Bullying can directly raise negative body views by teasing, mocking or joking about one's weight/appearance or indirectly through its impacts on personal self and unhealthy coping mechanisms .
- The majority of research on body image dissatisfaction and unhealthy eating has been on appearance or weight-related teasing . These studies suggest that teasing has a sizable relation with body image dissatisfaction, emotional eating, and bulimic behaviors.
-Alongside weight/appearance-related teasing, bullying contains a variety of forms of peer victimization such as: blatant aggression, social isolation, and rumour spreading.
- Studies related teasings show negative effects on self-esteem, over time with both girls and boys suffering.
In many experiences body shaming, taunts and rumor spreading has been observed in the victims social circle which consist of people ‘close to the victim’ or being ‘friends’ with the victim which causes the victim to develop eating disorders,anxiety, low - self esteem and at the same time - not keep a distance from the person/ people who are causing harm to the victim in the first place.
If somebody you love or care about is failing to notice the cost of being in a circle or environment which is emotionally or physically causing harm to that person, these are the ways to help them-
1. Assess the warning signs of an eating disorder, such as extreme dieting, binging, purging, distorted body image, and changed appearance.
2. People suffering from eating problems are often afraid to ask for help. Some are just as anxious as you are to start a conversation about their situation.The earlier you begin to help them, the better their chances of recovery. While you cannot force someone suffering from an eating disorder to heal, having supportive relationships is vital to their recovery. Your love and encouragement can make a dierence.
3. Listen without judgment- Show your care by asking about your loved one's feelings and concerns—and then truly listening. Avoid offering advice or criticism. Simply let your friend or family member know that they are being heard.
4. Encouraging someone to seek help- The longer an eating problem goes undiagnosed and untreated, the more dicult it is to overcome, so encourage your loved one to see a doctor right soon. Besides providing support, the most crucial thing you can do for someone suffering from an eating disorder is to encourage treatment.
There is overwhelming evidence that the LGBTQIA+ community is more likely to develop eating disorders.
-A 2016 study discovered that body dissatisfaction is "central to the distress trans persons experience" and that it sets them at risk of developing eating disorders.
School can be difficult for any student, but many LGBTQIA+ youth face an alarming amount of bullying, harassment and abuse. Homophobic and biphobic bullying happens when people involved discriminate against and treat others unfairly because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or questioning, or are viewed to be. People who are not lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning can also face homophobic and biphobic bullying if others believe they are.
Transphobic bullying happens when people discriminate against and treat others unjustly because their gender identity does not match the sex assigned to them at birth or because they do not agree to stereotyped gender expectations or 'social standards.'
People are having difficulty developing a sense of self and feeling more confident in their role or identity. If a person has already experienced trauma, such as- Being Bullied, Witnessing Abuse or Neglect, having Problematic Relations with Family Members, they are more likely to develop an eating disorder.
So, when we consider the LGBTQIA+ group, they are more exposed to negative experiences, such as bullying or feeling more unsure of themselves.
When we initiate these necessary conversations, we must start putting support in place for LGBTQIA+ youth. This will include sharing truth regarding -why eating disorders affect LGBTQIA+ individuals. More fundamentally, we must rethink the way we regularly discuss what forms a "normal body," moving further away from gender roles and expectations that may be conveyed through schooling.
There is no "conventional" way to have a body, identify as a single gender, or love someone. An unintentional remark can irreparably affect a student's self-image.