Black Girls Have Bulimia, Too. I Should Know

In a personal essay at Ebony.com, Latria Graham delivers a reminder that eating disorders don't belong to a specific race or shape. 

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In a personal essay at Ebony.com, Latria Graham delivers a reminder that eating disorders don't belong to a specific race or shape.

At nine, when my eating disorder started, I didn't know what to call it. I knew the moment I'd stuck my fingers down my throat that I was doing something unnatural, and when the pizza that I'd eaten landed in the toilet, I knew I wasn't going to be able to take it back. But, I'd thought, if it didn't really happen, then it wasn't a big deal because it would be O.K. -- as long as I didn't tell anybody. I told myself that I would never, ever, do it again. I was wrong.  I'd end up doing it as often as six or seven times a day.

At thirteen when I'd learned that the punishment I kept putting my body through had a name, I rejected it. Bulimia was an eating disorder, and all of the literature that I'd read about it told me that eating disorders were for young, White girls from affluent families. I was a young middle-class Black girl from South Carolina. We don't get bulimia. Our family physician confirmed as much when my mother finally caught me in the act of unloading my dinner into the toilet. It was just a "phase," he'd decided. My secret was safe.

I couldn't bring my issues with food to my parents; with a marriage on the rocks, they had their own anxieties about our family and its future to deal with. When I'd expressed dissatisfaction with my body, I was told repeatedly that African American women were supposed to be curvy.

Read Latria Graham's entire piece at Ebony.com.

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