Sept. 8, 2021 – When plus-sized supermodel Tess Holliday opened up this spring about her struggle with anorexia, she also spoke about the backlash she received, saying, “I understand that people look at me and I don’t fit what we have seen presented as the diagnosis for anorexia.”  I’ve had the same experience every single time where I was just kind of looked at like there’s really nothing wrong with you because you don’t fit the type for having an eating disorder,” said Pryor. “Because I’m not skinny I’m deemed as atypical, and that’s actually made it harder to recover.” 

Susie Sebastian, 30, says she does not fit the typical stereotype of anorexia.”A big fear I have is that if I speak out about [my eating disorder], people will think this is not real.”

“It’s made it actually extremely hard to recover, and my story is not uncommon,” she said. Nearly 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD).

Many of them are medically overweight, or fat as society would call them, yet their weight loss is encouraged, even as it’s caused by the eating disorder.  While less than 6% of people with eating disorders are medically diagnosed as “underweight,” those people are twice as likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder than people in larger bodies, according to ANAD.

Pryor said she started showing signs of an eating disorder at age 12, but did not receive treatment for it for years because of her size. When she did finally enter an inpatient treatment center, after losing weight and suffering medically because of it, Pryor said she was congratulated on her weight loss.  “Society teaches us that if you’re not skinny, you’re bad and you need to lose weight,” said Pryor. “I go through periods still where I don’t think I qualify for an eating disorder just because of the way that I look.”

People who are struggling should be looked at through the lens of their symptoms, and not their body size, according to Samantha DeCaro, PsyD, director of clinical outreach and education at The Renfrew Center, an organization of residential and outpatient eating disorder treatment programs across the country, where Pryor and Sebastian have each sought treatment.


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