Updated: Jan 12
We need to bring the fight against eating disorders back home.
The war waged against media’s conventional beauty standards and body types on social media are going strong and while we sometimes need to navigate around bumps in the road, we’re getting there. However, especially in Asia, mealtimes are mostly spent around family, and the topic of weight and size inevitably comes up. From the delicate adolescent years spent still awkwardly growing into bodies, all the way into young adulthood, our bodies fall victim to relentless commentary. 
The Toxicity We Don't Talk About
In the Introduction to a Special Issue of Eating Disorders in Asia published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders,  data showed an “increasing prevalence and severity of EDs in Asia” but was more often than not, going undetected. The journal also cited that in Japan, family dynamics was one of the stressors causing ED. 
It always starts the same way: a stingingly casual remark about eating too much or weight gain, in some form or another, presented at the dinner table like an extra and very unwelcome guest. The hurt and anger sets in, arguments pursue. And then that one line that you can never fight against: “I’m saying this because I love you.”
It is a common occurrence in my household and one of the biggest forms of pleasure, the indulgence in food that makes one happy, slowly turned sour, as I believe it does for countless others in different homes.
Our Turn to Do Better
I don’t doubt that the comments are made out of love – it is concern for our health and wellbeing. Excessive weight gain does come with a myriad of other diseases. But that concern is not separate from the looming, deep-rooted fear of being fat and the negative image presented to an audience outside of family.
Past all the resentment, anger and hurt, I have to remind myself that parents don’t know any better. They aren’t “woke” like we are and they love us in the way they were. So we’ll have to teach them slowly, painfully, that certain things shouldn’t be mentioned, some topics better left alone or brought up in a better manner. In the name of love, we have to teach them to love differently.
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About Our Writer
Rachel is an anxious INFJ with a slightly concerning obsession with coffee and true crime. She loves feeling smart and dislikes playing games she knows she will lose. Learning about mental health is her way of helping people around her. IF the world was perfect, she wishes she could bring her friends flowers in a little red wagon.
This editorial section solely expresses the opinion of frankie and is not endorsed nor commissioned by any external party. The list is non-exhaustive. At frankie, we believe that your best provider of medical advice is your doctor. Please consult a doctor before undergoing any treatment or procedure.
1. Pike, K. M., & Dunne, P. E. (2015). The rise of eating disorders in Asia: a review. Journal of Eating Disorders, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40337-015-0070-2
2. Kim, Y., Nakai, Y., & Thomas, J. J. (2020). Introduction to a special issue on eating disorders in Asia. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 54(1), 3–6. https://doi.org/10.1002/eat.23444
3. Arcuri, A. (2021, September 2). Things you might not know about eating disorders. HealthDigest.Com. https://www.healthdigest.com/594255/things-you-might-not-know-about-eating-disorders/