My Eating Disorder Had Nothing to Do with Barbie or the Media

A lot of people with an eating disorder will find the idea that it’s caused by Barbies or supermodels insulting and patronizing. It’s a mental illness, not a bad case of vanity.

When I was ten years old, I had a Barbie doll. I had VHS copies of every Disney movie ever made, and a stack of Cosmo magazines I’d stolen from my older sister. Six years later, I had anorexia. None of these things are related.

You can hardly go online nowadays without coming across an aggressively angry article decrying something or someone for perpetuating “unrealistic body standards”—be it Topshop mannequin, a Disney character’s waistband, or, time and time again, Barbie dolls.

Paradoxically, in discussions of “unrealistic bodies,” real women get the most stick for their stick-figures, be it flat-bellied celebrities on Instagram, or, most frequently, the entire modeling industry itself.

Published on the Vice magazine website on 2.20.15
Written by: Amelia Tait