Fashion is fashion. It changes yearly, seasonally, and occasionally more. In the day-to-day hustle and bustle, we fixate on things in our closet that fit or suit the occasion for which we are wearing them, and subconsciously strangers receive a small signal about how it defines us as individuals. This subconscious thought process comes to mind only when a stranger excitedly rushes to adore your style. They may say to you “I like this band,” “I’m a fan of this music,” “I desire high luxury brands,” “I crave more of a bohemian themed closet,” and so on. In a lot of ways, fashion is such a great expression of self. This is great for everyone, until it isn’t healthy any longer.
It’s a dainty bracelet, what could be the harm? It’s cute and it matches everything. It’s just an accessory to everyone- everyone but me. It is a simple, slim, red bracelet with a small butterfly charm hanging off, and it was only twenty or thirty dollars. To me, the one sitting at the lunch table, in the coffee line, or waiting to check out at the store, that bracelet represented so much more than the average person could imagine. It’s a lifestyle, and a constant reminder of my eating disorder. It wasn’t until someone pointed out that it may represent a motivation to continue with the eating disorder, that’s when I realized the harm fashion could do to my life.
A little red bracelet meant I could continue on my path with my eating disorder by my side, and I was proud to continue. It’s often scary to think about that. When I originally asked for the bracelet, my mother and father said things like “Oh, that’s cute,” or “ That would go great with the black, red, and white top you have!” Even though they liked the bracelet, they didn’t understand what it symbolized. To those who don’t struggle with an eating disorder it’s just a cute bracelet; however, they didn’t realize that it also fed my mental health disorder.
You see, the red bracelet was not just a red bracelet, it was a sign- it symbolized “I’m pro-anorexia.” The red bracelet began its work in a group chat on a website. It was a site dedicated to individuals who want to find community with their eating disorder, but not yet overcome it. A site that meant to encourage the awful effects of an eating disorder. The other girls and boys in the chat said I didn’t have to wear a red bracelet if I felt silly, instead I could wear a red shirt on Monday’s. In the same breath they told stories of all their run-ins with the bracelet, and knowing that they were part of the group gave them the courage to have conversations with total strangers, strangers who understood. That’s what I wanted. I wanted someone to understand. What I didn’t realize was, if I opened up to my family or friends, they also wanted to understand. More importantly, they also wanted to help me overcome my eating disorder.
Now, don’t go run to your friend or family member who has a red bracelet and assume that it means they have an eating disorder- some people just have red bracelets. Let’s face it, red is a beautiful color and matches almost every outfit I have! But, if you’ve already read this far into my blog then maybe you may already have someone in mind, whether it be yourself or a loved one.
Here are some signs of an eating disorder:
- Avoiding eating in public, or eating alone in their room
- Making excuses for not eating
- Using the bathroom after eating
- Dizzy spells or fainting
- Only eating what they believe are “safe” foods
- Hiding food
- Constantly starting a new diet
- Wearing clothing to hide their body, or in reverse, clothing that shows too much of their body
The more I wore the red bracelet, the more my eating disorder developed. I started engaging in these behaviors more frequently, which hurt my body even more. Thus, I urge you all to speak with your loved ones who are wearing this red bracelet and get professional help. These conversations are not easy, but they are SO worth having.
For more on how to navigate these conversations check out: Supporting A Loved One With An Eating Disorder .