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It's Time To Change The Way We Talk About Eating Disorders

No more lazy punchlines.

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Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening problems.

Girls' Club Productions / Via youtube.com

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, and up to 24 million people — male and female, of all ages — have eating disorders in just the U.S.

But, for some reason, they're still often and openly treated like easy punchlines.

And while there's certainly danger in joking about eating disorders — namely, in allowing the proliferation of misconceptions that eating disorders are conscious decisions made by young, vain, white girls — after a while, an equally frustrating offense is that these jokes are so very boring and bad.

Like way back in 1988, when Heathers told us bulimia was a fad that was totally over.

New World Pictures

Or in 1992, when Seinfeld put a laugh track behind Elaine's friend telling her to order her a slice of cake while she goes to throw up.

View this video on YouTube

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In 2000, when Miss Congeniality did the same thing.

Castle Rock Entertainment

Family Guy has made variations on the "joke" almost too often to keep track.

In 2013 on Glee, Santana hoped Rachel was "channeling her inner bulimic" because she was "looking extremely pumpkin-like."

FOX

In the same year, Caroline from 2 Broke Girls saw cupcakes at work, asked if "that bulimic girl" was there that day, and found out she was "in the bathroom."

Do you get it? It's hilarious.
CBS / Via gottawatchit.com

Do you get it? It's hilarious.

Just recently, in October 2014, Modern Family couldn't resist.

So, to recap, in case the joke is not landing even after being repeated for over 20 years: Some women are bulimic, and their very existence is apparently very, very funny.
NBC

So, to recap, in case the joke is not landing even after being repeated for over 20 years: Some women are bulimic, and their very existence is apparently very, very funny.

But this punching down isn't limited to bulimia. There are scores of jabs at people (again: young, vain women) who live with anorexia or disordered eating.

There's this classic bit from 1997's Romy and Michele's High School Reunion

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(It's funny because they're dumb!)

New Girl, 2015:

FOX
FOX

In 2011, Demi Lovato fought back against an anorexia joke on the Disney Channel show Shake it Up

Demi spoke out again this past November after Meghan Trainor joked to ET, "I wasn't strong enough to have an eating disorder. I tried to go anorexic for a good three hours. I ate ice and celery, but that’s not even anorexic. And I quit."

Having an eating disorder doesn't show "strength." Strength is when are able to overcome your demons after being sick and tired for so long.

There's a wide misconception that anorexia and/or bulimia is a choice and you often hear people say things like "why doesn't she just start

eating?" Or even "just stop throwing up." It's the ignorance and lack of education on mental illnesses that continues to but mental health

care on the back burner to congress even though this is an epidemic that is sweeping our nation, and causing more and more tragedy every day

Starving is not a "diet" and throwing up isn't something that only extremely thin men or women do. Eating disorders do not discriminate..

Demi gets it: The joke is dangerous and tired. Let's do better.

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