A while ago, my mother and I were having a conversation about eating disorders. I’m not even sure how we reached this topic, but she got to the issue of Bulimia, something she surprisingly didn’t seem to comprehend (my mother was a ballerina in her youth). Maybe what specifically bothered her was the fact that we were talking about Bulimia and Anorexia with black women; sometime before this conversation, we got wind that one of my cousins went to rehab for treatment for Binge Eating and subsequently throwing it all back up.
“ Bulimia is a white people’s disease,” she stated, very matter of factly and pointedly, shaking her head, “black people don’t do that…”
Me, after throwing my brains up
I couldn’t bother to cough up a rebuttal and made a noncommittal noise from my throat. Suddenly, it was two months prior, three in the morning, as I sat in the parking lot of an empty whole foods, vomiting up the remains of espresso chip ice cream. Yeah, black people don’t get those diseases, I nodded, reminded of the time I spend huddled over the toilet, throwing up. Trying to get a semblance of control that had been taken from me by binge eating disorder and medication. No, eating disorders are not a black person’s issue, and this is why we suffer quietly, why we are less likely to get treatment, to be diagnosed. This isn’t our disease.