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    12 Things People Don't Understand About Eating Disorders

    An estimated 24 million people in the U.S. have eating disorders. This is a glimpse into what that means.

    1. They aren't just about body image.

    2. They aren't adolescent disorders.

    3. They aren't women's disorders.

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    A 2007 study suggests that men make up 25% of individuals with bulimia and anorexia, and 36% of those with binge-eating disorder. Because men are less likely to seek treatment, they tend to be underrepresented statistically. Lawyer and advocate Brian Cuban, who is a survivor of bulimia, talks about this misconception in the video above.

    4. They aren't white disorders.

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    There's an idea that women of color don't struggle with eating disorders, because the equating of thinness with beauty is, historically and culturally, a white practice. But this just isn't the case. "What we've seen is that African-American girls are now becoming increasingly more likely to suffer from disordered eating, and this seems to be a sort of post-integration experience," Melissa Harris-Perry says in this NPBC video. "More and more young black girls are going to school in environments that give them sort of very strong messages about normative body types that African-American girls have a difficult time fitting into."

    5. They aren't punchlines.

    6. They're life-consuming.

    7. They include more than anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating.

    8. People with eating disorders aren't easy to identify.

    9. People with eating disorders can't just "snap out of it."

    10. Chances are, people with eating disorders don't see themselves the way you see them.

    11. They're serious and life-threatening problems.

    12. Recovery is possible.


    Men make up an estimated 36% of individuals who have binge-eating disorder. A previous version of this story stated the wrong percentage.