Catherineib: Eating disorders aren't the fault of the fashion industry. I should know

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The Independent Online

It's London Fashion Week, and with that comes the inevitable return to what has become known as "the size zero debate".

The question posed by most journalists when naively attempting to cover a story on the subject is whether or not the fashion industry is to blame for the rise in cases of eating disorders, more often than not lazily jumping to the conclusion that yes, this constant bombardment of skinny "role models" forces girls and women to "become" anorexic. If only life were that simple.

As a recovering anorexic and bulimic, I can tell you quite simply (if you ask me directly, quite abruptly) that no, the fashion world is most definitely not, nor has it ever been the sole cause of the development of an eating disorder. Just as Marilyn Manson was the scapegoat for the Columbine shootings, the media points the finger at what, to them, is the most likely explanation – or with regards to size zero, sells the most copies of their magazine.

The tired conclusion that stick-insect models and rake thin celebrities are behind the huge number of people suffering with eating disorders only perpetuates the stereotypical belief that anorexia is a lifestyle choice – a diet gone too far. This presumption angers me beyond belief.

Throughout years of treatment being an inpatient, outpatient and using internet support forums, I have not met one single person who claims images in the media have played a part in them forming an eating disorder.

I can assure you that nobody makes a conscious decision to become so ill that they have to spend months or years in hospital away from their loved ones, be force fed through a naso-gastric tube, or observed around the clock with not an ounce of dignity to their name.

I would not wish any aspect of this illness upon my worst enemy (not that I have any, but a saying is a saying): to generalise it to the point of accusing catwalk models belittles those who have fallen victim to it and completely dismisses the sheer complexity of eating disorders as a whole.

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