Queer, Fat-Accepting, and Eating Disordered: We Can Be All Three

I just want to call out to anybody who shares two or more of these identities. I share them all. I went to a treatment center for eating disorders this summer, where I learned a great deal. Finally, I can imagine living a life without the fucked-up behaviors terrorizing me every day, and the thoughts. In this treatment program for rich people and/or people with good insurance, we learned in group therapy, individual therapy, individual nutrition sessions, and therapeutic meals about assertiveness (saying no!), processing, emotional acceptance and awareness, self-compassion, self-soothing, building a support team, all of which would kick the eating disorder into the ditch. I’m so fucking glad that I can live without this now, and it takes a lot of work to keep it up. I could relate to the clients and some of the practitioners at the program because we all knew what it was like to have an eating disorder, and many things that go along with and come from that. But the practitioners and clients assumed that we all related to each other in another way, because we were all as they said women. As someone who was wavering between girl-identifying and boy-identifying, placing myself somewhere in the definitely non-gender binary and imperfectly-labeled queer spectrum, I felt extremely alienated by this assumption, and I became worried about other queer people who have eating disorders but cannot seek help because of gender discrimination.

My eating disorder causes shame and comes from shame. I’m struggling to love my body, and finally realize that’s the only way for me to live. For a long time I’ve seen the horrible effects of hatred for bodies that have been othered by a culture built on this shame and discrimination. I’m working really hard inside to throw this in my own waste basket, I know I can’t do it alone, I know it’s not just for me. The clients at the program that I went to only hid their gender and fat discrimination when there were other-gendered or fat people present, and they didn’t seem to want to or know how to start unlearning this discrimination.While the practitioners recognized these problematic beliefs (problematic for them because they got in the way of recovering from an eating disorder), they had a severe lack of understanding of LGBTQI or fat acceptance. They were not able to educate their clients on two essential identities and ways of being in the world, and this made me feel alone.

It might be easy to lop these identities all under the sign of body positivity, but that’s not what I’m trying to do. I want to recognize specific and intersecting struggles.