Skinny Shaming Is Still Body Shaming

And it doesn’t help anyone recover from eating disorders.

Dana Leigh Lyons
9 min readMay 24, 2024

Note: This essay originally appeared in my Substack newsletter: Sober Soulful. Find me there for weekly posts, the Early Sobriety series, the Financial Sobriety series, and the Eating & Body series.

I spent much of my teens, twenties, and thirties caught in addictive cycles related to food. In high school, I went on hour-plus runs then picked at lettuce and pretzels. In college, I ate in a cement stairwell rather than face our packed cafeteria. In grad school, I subsisted on muffins and coffee.

For years I used eating (and not eating) to quiet anxiety, numb grief and pain, and establish control. I created a secret, reliable refuge amidst panic and chaos.

And while my primary pattern was anorexia, I suspect that many who struggle with chronic overeating, binge eating, or binging and purging come from a similar place. We’re pleading for belonging and safety. We’re desperate to find relief and feel better. We discovered a solution amidst the too-muchness and not-enoughness of being here.

But that solution doesn’t work — not really. Addictive eating patterns will never bring true, lasting relief. Nor will they offer true refuge, or meet our real needs, or solve our pain, fear, and heartbreak. Instead, they hurt us, hold us hostage, and make our lives smaller.