Barriers to POC and Marginalized Populations in Eating Disorder Treatment

The other day while hearing a podcast on the prominence of eating disorder populations, I heard a clinician mention that eating disorders were not as prevalent in person of color (POC) populations. Not only was this an untrue statement, but it also reinforced the misconception that eating disorders are stereotyped to certain populations, namely to white, affluent, young women.

Not only does the stereotype leave out the entire landscape of other eating disorders/behaviors (bulimia, binge eating, avoidant restrictive eating, orthorexia and otherwise unspecified disorders). It also leaves out that the way disorders in POC, non-binary, male, older, younger, abled or less abled persons may manifest in entirely different ways than they would for the stereotypical white thin woman. Or they may manifest in similar ways to the stereotype but no one paid enough attention to notice.

The misconception continues to survive because eating disorder behaviors of POC are often mischaracterized, ignored, or minimized, and there is little research or advocacy around POC being given equitable and fair treatment for their eating disorders.

Not to mention the discriminations placed on weight, body size, and body shape. I have said as an ED therapist that if you know one person with an eating disorder, you’ve known one eating disorder. All eating disorders are different, and all people who have them are unique and deserve respect and individually tailored intervention in their recovery.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, no matter your body size, race, gender, sexuality, or socioeconomic status, I believe you! and you are welcome here. Please contact me if I can serve you and support you to move forward in your recovery.

Thanks to #NEDA for creating this infographic highlighting POC’s and marginalized population barriers to treatment. We as clinicians owe it to our clients and ourselves to continue seeking out opportunities for education, inclusion, and equity, to become aware of our own implicit bias and to offer reprieve for those marginalized.

It is already enough to be facing this illness, it is quite another thing to desire help and feel excluded.