'You don't need to see my 'before' pictures to believe that I was sick' - Irish anorexia survivor (28)
An Irish woman who survived anorexia nervosa has criticised media organisations who publish photographs and information about sufferers at their lowest weight.
Fiona Morris (28) from Greystones battled with anorexia for more than 12 years and said that publishing photographs of those living with eating disorders at their sickest is "dangerous".
The Greystones local said she has often been asked what she weighed when she was ill and said the focus on weight gives the impression that all sufferers are extremely thin, which isn’t the case.
Speaking to Independent.ie, Fiona said: "I really believe in the importance of getting rid of this idea that someone has to be stick thin or morbidly obese in order to have an eating disorder."
"You can’t tell whether or not someone has an eating disorder just by looking at them because eating disorders can appear in so many shapes and sizes. The perception that only people who are stick thin have real eating disorders is actually dangerous," she said.
The Wicklow woman said that publishing before photos of people battling with eating disorders can prove as aspiration to those struggling, and convince others that their behaviours are normal when they might not be.
"By publishing 'before' pictures, someone who doesn’t look like the sufferers in these images might continue on with their behaviours, either convincing themselves that they don’t have a problem because they don’t look unwell, or that in order to get help, they must continue to the point when they ‘look like they have an eating disorder."
Fiona's battle with multiple eating disorders eroded every aspect of her life for 12 years, but now, she is in a healthy place. Fiona said the showcasing of 'before and after' photographs by the media is something that needs to be changed.
"Expressing my own eating disorder through pictures, food diaries and weights is not helpful.
"If someone doesn't eat what I did, doesn’t look the way I looked or doesn’t weigh what I weighed, that doesn’t mean they don't have an eating disorder.
"Eating disorders are disorders of the mind, a mental illness that manifest in food and weight behaviours. Food and weight are a byproduct of an inner turmoil, a compulsion, a security blanket and a strategy system for dealing with the internal pain and outside world.
"The body is just an injured bystander."
For information and support on Anorexia Nervosa or other eating disorders visit www.seechange.ie or www.bodywhys.ie or call the Irish Helpline on: 1890 200 444