There are so many stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders. They develop in all races, socioeconomic groups and are complex. The stereotypes surrounding them succeed in oversimplifying them: "she wants to be thin, so she starves," or "she wants to be popular, so she purges." For some reason, that seems to be a much easier concept to grasp than someone having anxiety and using eating disordered behaviors as a way to try and cope or someone being depressed and hating themselves too much to believe that they are worthy of food.
Unfortunately, most people will never be educated as to the fact that (most) eating disorders are not about food, vanity or attention. Many will hold steadfast to their beliefs, citing modern media as the culprit for the disease or not being thin and popular enough in high school.
Eating disorders can becaused by a variety of factors such as genetics or psychological issues. They cannot be cured with willpower alone. They are chronic conditions and those who suffer with them will likely face a life long battle, much like an (recovered) alocholic.
Our textbook states that eating disorders are one of the most deadly mental illnesses. The Department of Mental Health, South Carolina states: the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 - 24 years old. That blows my mind. If this is true, isn't it time for everyone to become more educated about eating disorders? It is crucial that we start looking for that deeper "why" and not chalk it up to "wanting to loose a few pounds".