30 Bananas a Day!

Why are anorexics obsessed with their phsyical appearance?

I'm asking honestly. This is not meant to be mean. 
I've never socialized with anorexic people so this is my first encounter with them. I find it aggravating to answer their questions because they don't seem to care about your answer unless it fits their agenda. 
Is this a form of narcissism?  Maybe it's better not to answer their questions? 

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I don't know how well this answers the question but often times it is not "our agenda" it's the eating disorder's agenda. There is a line drawn between the actual person and the eating disorder. Anorexia is a form of mental disease that manifests itself in the obsession and control over weight and appearance. 

At least for me, my appearance was the only real thing I could control in my hectic changing life. 

I often do actually think I am quite vain. I felt it couldn't be helped, but on this lifestyle I have become so humble with my body and appearance- something I never would have thought possible when I was in the grip of my eating disorder- even though I'm experiencing humiliating acne due to major detox.

ahahaa - yeh its tedious, but it is important to remember that it is genuinely a mental disease. just keep repeating the, (hard) honest truth. if they find it hard to hear, im of the opinion that shows all the more how important it is to say it! ...as much as it can be testing on your patience.!!...its also very draining from the other perspective! :)

The only reason I asked if it was a form of narcissism is because when I googled anorexia, narcasistic personality disorder came up associated with it frequently. From what I've read, narcissists don't a like themselves either. They are obsessed with what others think  and need constant validation and admiration. From the responses I've gotten to this post it seems that half of the recovering anorexics say it's about narcissism while the other half say it's more about control and OCD.  
As far as advice, I was referring the questions on this board asking for advice.  As for me, I seem to have the opposite of anorexia. I thought I was thin until I weighed in at 190 pounds. Oops! But, thanks to 30 Bad it's coming off!

Thinking you are the "worst in the world" is just as narcissistic as thinking you are the best in the world.  But narcissism isn't a personality flaw that people decide to have because they are selfish.

Our culture is so messed up that people can't even see how crazy it is.  I mean, our physical appearance is only one small aspect of who we are.  Adolescents need to have a rite of passage into a community where they have a role.  They need meaning, purpose.  They need assistance from elders to figure out their new sexuality.  We don't have any support for that in our culture any more, so all teenage girls can figure out is what they see in the popular media.  That their entire self worth is based on how they look...

How can people help being self-centered when they have no meaningful connections to others, to community, to nature?

"Thinking you are the "worst in the world" is just as narcissistic as thinking you are the best in the world."

That's interesting. I have a friend who has a lot of narcasistic qualities but it's centered around her being the worst, not good enough, etc. But it's always about her and she uses people's empathies to her favor. I think that is the worst kind of narcasist. 

Greenmama you are so right (especially the part in the middle). You should so some kind of work with these kinds of teenage girls, I bet you would be great for that. This kind of assistance and guidance you mention is so important for adolescents (I think especially females) but there is no such thing for most. We have dysfunctional relationships and lack of that kind of connection and community that we need. I bet that is a huge reason why the youth is so messed up now. Smoking weed or doing other types of drugs, drinking, eating disorders, body obsession, self-harm, mental illnesses, personality disorders - all of this seems to be normal today. It's also glamorized in movies, music videos and TV. 

Thank you, Dreamer.  I dream of doing that kind of work.  I am starting to work on a book already.  You are right, these problems are very widespread. Hugs!


You could look up the symptoms of body dysmorphia if you're interested. Basically those with it have an obsession with a self-perceived flaw and this obsession often causes them to become withdrawn from others and extremely self-conscious. This obsession is often unrealistic or dramatized, their own mind blows up and exaggerates the "flaw" way out of proportion. In Anorexia Nervosa, the self-perceived flaw in their own dysmorphia is typically they believe they are too fat, taking up too much space, people won't like them because they are too heavy.

For some, even if they lose a LOT of weight they still feel and see the exact same person so they think they need to keep losing and losing more weight because if they fixed the "flaw" then things would all be okay in life. It's the complete opposite of narcissism! People with eating disorders often feel so lowly about themselves that they feel they don't deserve to eat and feel like they need to punish themselves by not allowing themselves food.

Think about it as obsessive compulsive disorder, just the obsession is with appearance, rather than locking and unlocking doors or washing hands.   Actually, some "anorexics" are not obsessed with appearance at all, but with restricting food intake and counting calories, or with eating purity rules.  

Then the act of restricting calories ensures that the sufferers will be obsessed with food even more.  Thinking less clearly (undercarbed).  Usually caffeine and nicotine abuse is present.

It really helps if you just understand that the person has an illness, rather than they are choosing to be stubborn.  There are multiple causes of the illness... social breakdown and little support for adolescents, a patriarchal culture where violence against women and children is common, lack of meaning and purpose in one's life, etc.  Yes, personal choice plays into it, just as it does for alcoholism and other addictions, but it isn't so simple to say, "They should just choose to stop."  

We should try to be as supportive as possible, and honesty is a very important part of that, but also compassion.  If someone came here with say, cancer, we wouldn't spend all of our time shaming that person for the bad choices that led to the cancer, especially since many of those choices were made before they knew any different.  We would help them learn what they needed to know to heal.  We should look at eating disorders the same way.

we are social animals. Even a quadriplegic can smile everyday if they are surrounded by good people.

most if not everything we learn is through imitation. Television, billboards, and magazines are filled with images of skinny people selling products that we 'need'.

most of the 'food' we eat makes us bloated, tired, gassy, and ill both short and long term. so avoiding food that we are 'supposed' to eat may be a survival instinct.

most athletes have a flat belly which may lead someone to the conclusion that a round belly is unhealthy. 

it is easy for women to percieve that men are only attracted to thin women.

narcissism and anorexia are very closely related.

people visit this website to improve their health, and many more visit this website to lose weight. amongst people who wish to lose weight some percentage will be seeking unhealthy weight loss.  the solution is to be patient and try to help.  just like logic will often not free a  member of a religious cult, logic will often not work with an anorexic. 

if someone is using this forum seeking help then remember that 'time heals all wounds'

if they are not here seeking help then remember that 'time wounds all heels'.

Because they just are... In all seriousness, anorexia is very unique. It may seem like their answers are very harsh or come off as they don't care, however there is a problem/issue in their life so dark that it takes over their life and their self esteem. By questions, what do you mean? 

After I recovered from anorexia myself, I noticed a lot of people were distant and didn't really want to be around me. I pushed everyone away from me and I was negative towards everything and everyone. Anorexic people are suffering so much that there is like a black hole of negative energy. I'm guessing alot of it has to do with not getting enough glucose to the brain, self confidence issues, and not to mention people commenting on how they look frail and disgusting. I think a lot of it has to do with frustration. I was so frustrated with everything, it made me look like I didn't care about anyone or their opinions. I think it would be better not to answer questions if you hate it. I understand that people don't understand what happens in a mind of an anorexic. It can be a pretty dark and scary place. As far as the physical appearance obsession, the reason varies. Like mine was because everyone told me I was fat, so I just wanted to be beautiful and skinny.  

To say that anorexics are “obsessed with their appearance” is a very bad oversimplification. Anorexia is a very complicated mental disorder and addiction which is usually rooted in low self-esteem and control issues. They often feel that being skinny is the only thing they can attribute to themselves and so become obsessed with weight loss. As the disease often overlaps with body dysmorphia, they will have a distorted perception of their appearance and so get trapped in compulsive behaviour. It is an addiction like any other, it involves the same neurological processes associated with alcohol and drug addiction. As someone else pointed out, it is related to obsessive-compulsive disorder: specifically, they may feel a lack of control in their life and so become obsessed with controlling their appearance or food intake.



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