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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 think we are all concerned with our appearance. Humans are social animals, and survival means winning the approval of the group, which generally means being attractive and likeable. I really enjoyed the books Spent and The Mating Mind, which talk about how alot of what we do and how we consume can be traced back to the primal desire to attract a mate. This is a really strong urge that we feel regardless of whether we are attached or single, and regardless of whether we notice it or not! It is not narcissistic or shallow to have the desire to be perceived as attractive. It's natural.

Also, I don't believe that anorexics are necessarily more concerned with their appearance than other human beings. I think that their appearance is just where they wind up focusing their need to control something in their life. Weight is something that can easily be controlled without the permission of others, and in secret if need be. I don't think this has anything to do with narcissim, which is an inflated ego and disconcern for others.

Anorexia is a serious disorder, and it is not something anyone chooses. So, absolutely, if you cannot answer a recovering anorexics questions without implying that they're narcissistic, or if you don't understand what they are going through, it is probably best not to answer at all. If you do answer, try to do it gently and supportively. (^_^)

because we want to see ourselves as the perfect body. aka skinny/toned.  its hard not to want that when 99% of the media and industry shove it in your faces all of the time.  we dont think we are "beautiful/attractive" if we are overweight.  the disordered thinking adds to it big time. oh my gosh i cant have that its too many calories and i need to only have 1000 to lose weight and get thing and be perfect.  thats what my head was like for a good 6 months maybe?  its also a matter of control.  when you feel like you have control of your eating/exercise/weight losing routine, you feel better about yourself.  its tough to break, i hope my body image issues subside at some point, but i know they wont until i get to the weight i was again (through 811! no calorie restriction :) )

I'm confused by what you mean by " I find it aggravating to answer their questions because they don't seem to care about your answer unless it fits their agenda. "

Are you trying to answer their questions for them?

Either way, I highly doubt there are very many women of this day and age who have not at least had phases where they are obsessed with their physical appearance and weight. 

Why? Because we societally believe a beautiful person is more worthy, more happy, has an easier lifestyle and is more pleasant to be and so forth. 

I was referring to the questions on 30BAD from the anorexics. Answering their questions becomes and effort in futility. I personally don't know any anorexics. 

The only reason I answer the questions is because I don't realize until later in the conversation that they are anoriexic. Because I've never known any anorexics personally I am trying to understand where they are coming from.

It seems pointless to ask questions when one doesn't really want answers. 

Yeah, they don't have a lot of self-awareness.  Try to remember they are suffering and listen to the feeling of desperation and pain behind the words.  

I think it may be some form of narcissism, combined with low self esteem. For me it was at least. Tim Van Orden once said that shyness is narcissism. I was very shy (still am kinda shy), because I cared about what people thought of me. I thought they were judging me, and if I was skinnier than them I would have an excuse to feel better than them. So maybe it's a coping mechanism? I've also heard that anorexia "feeds itself", literally, cause something happens in the brain when it doesn't get enough fuel and nutrients, it becomes dysfunctional and you get a lot of anxiety, which is coped with by eating less and getting skinnier. It gives your life a purpose and it gives you an identity. I think the most important first step is to get better is to eat enough and feed your body so you can find some other purpose to fill that void with. Haha, I remember now what it was like, so glad I found this lifestyle, cause life is so much more fun without eating disorders. :)

Hey so I completely understand how someone who's never had anorexia might not get that it's a really complicated issue, but being someone who has recovered from anorexia myself, it makes me really uncomfortable the way you just say "the anorexics."   Like people who are suffering/have suffered from anorexia are this mob of vain needy succubi.  As an example, let's say there were a lot of people with schizophrenia asking repetitive questions.  As annoying as it might be, would you title a discussion "Why are schizos so ___?"  Like I said I really try to be patient, but it's a little offensive =/ I don't mean to single you out because a lot of members on this site, DR included, do the same thing.  This discussion just happened to catch my attention because it was right in the title on the main page. 

It also isn't necessarily fair to say that every person who is obsessed with their weight is anorexic.  Anorexia is a medical and psychological condition, there are certain things that have to be present in order for it to actually be diagnosed AS anorexia nervosa.

While appearance and calorie restriction/weight control are the most obvious symptoms/results of anorexia, they really are only superficial.  There is a whole inner world of reasons and experiences and warped feelings about yourself and the world that manifest in the form of eating disorders.  It's never ever a choice.

I do find the repetitive questions just as annoying as you though, I'll admit, and I had a blog a little bit ago that got some attention about it just so I don't sound like I'm flip-flopping.  I'm not saying the questions are less than irritating(especially considering I, myself, came to 30BaD to AVOID those types of discussions and focus on HEALTH) or that the people asking are always easy to converse with, but they are people and deserve at least respect in that manner. 

Hope this was clear I'm not trying to come off as rude or anything, I just wanted to make that point!


As someone who also suffered anorexia (as well as before that BED for an even longer period of time), I HIGHLY reccommend the book "It's not about Food" (By Carol Emery Normandi and Laurelee Roark). You can find that book, more books, etc. on their website.


By the way, these two women who wrote the book are also "warriors who won the battle against EDs". They go about it optimally not only because they have battled it themselves, but also because they don't mention ANY numbers AND they even admit how clinics and "doctors" don't help in the long term (or even at all) because they fail to understand and how to treat them correctly.

My personal point of view- its from control. There is still much to be learnt about Anorexia, so I wouldn't say narcissism is or is not linked to it. Nor would I overgeneralise that they're about their own agenda since people can be unwell and have a kind or unkind disposition which has nothing to do with this illness.

Anorexics tend to judge themselves harshly and unrealistically.. Its a distortion of reality. Its either mental, physical, emotional or a mix or combination of the three. If you're approaching them from a place that isn't understanding [or at least non judgemental and open to listening] they wont listen to you in return or let you in. The don't usually need advice.... just someone who cares, is patient and loves them. Society already tells them its wrong... Be a friend. Don't let the door close.

I didn't care about calories, I just hated food and feeling full, [I still hate feeling full, but I do eat now.] and I loved feeling my bones [it made be feel alive- its the best way I can describe it] I feared fat, however I did not see other people as fat or at least I didn't judge them for it. I was more empathetic towards people than myself. 

Human beings manifest their hurt in different ways hence to alcohol abuse, drugs, and risky behaviour... Anorexia is just another way of letting inner hurt out.... Its an expression or cry for help.

They blame themselves for things they cant control; some become this way because of chemical imbalances which isn't their fault, others experiment cause they're obsessed with body image and become hooked cause they get results and attention fast, and others like myself also became a bulimic and self harm/ cut.

I lived a very social life at that time, and was confident. Was it healthy confidence? I'm torn. Now that I think of it, my confidence was more of a self defence. I taught myself at a young age to love myself, cause if I didn't, who will? That was after much teasing that I was too thin....long before I started my vice. [ You'd think 'd stuff my face with food after being underweight right?] My self esteem today comes from a different place now. Also, I'm well aware there would be days I'm hormonal and won't feel as good, but I could still point out things I like about myself ,and personality- I was able to do that then also.

A lot of things I came to realize only after I stopped the physical act of starving my self some years ago. The more I think about it, the more I see my thought process unfold while I suffered and I understand it better.

I'd advise anyone suffering with this to write... Let the feelings out or talk with me or anyone you can trust. I've been there, I wont judge. Or..we can at least be friends hahah :)

ps. Hope this helped.  Take care. 


PS: I would love to talk with you about it Princessliz. Just like AJ, you describe it precisely to the point. Though I must use the time this weekend to prepare for multiple tests this week, I would love to exchange PMs with you on the side. Feel free to add me as a friend. :)

Sure :) Sent you a request. Talk soon ;)



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