Health

This Woman's Drawings Are Sparking a Conversation About Eating Disorders

February 21st 2017

By:
Almie Rose

If you've ever experienced a battle with an eating disorder, illustrator Christie Begnell knows exactly how you feel.

The 24-year-old from Sydney, Australia, has published a book of her drawings titled "Me and My ED" — the "ED" stands for eating disorder. Her illustrations depict anorexia as both a menacing monster and an annoying frenemy. 

Warning: potentially triggering images.

Begnell has posted many of the images from her book on her Instagram account, meandmyed.art, and her drawings have resonated with people who have struggled with eating disorders and body image issues.

"There is truly nothing glamorous about eating disorders," she noted alongside one Instagram post.

People are praising her for the honesty in her artwork, and are sharing some of their own stories.

eating disorder instagram comment

Begnell told BuzzFeed she faced challenges while in recovery from her illness. "One nurse told me I didn’t look anorexic," she recounted, "and in the midst of a panic attack told me I didn’t have an eating disorder and should just get over it."

"I feel like there is such an important message that needs to be spread here and that’s that eating disorders are real, horrifying mental illnesses," she told BuzzFeed. "I want to keep educating people and I want to keep helping people feel less alone. At the moment I’m just taking it all day by day and seizing every opportunity that comes my way."

Part of educating people is reminding them that it's not only women who suffer from eating disorders.

The National Eating Disorders Association estimates that in the United States "20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS [eating disorder not otherwise specified]."

She also takes on the popular "before and after" Instagram photo trope.

But Begnell pictures her before-and-after as an illustration, not a photo:

She explains why in the caption: "Personally, I'm hesitant to post my own [before-and-after photos]."

"When I see my unwell body contrasted with my present body, I am triggered. I think 'oh my goodness, look at how small I was. I wish I could go back to that', and am quick to forget the misery and desperation that came with that body. I also know that media use our weight loss and gain as a dramatic statement to make our stories more 'interesting'. Well, they certainly did for me anyway."

Wen Begnell finds she is triggered, she turns to drawing, as she told BuzzFeed. "When I was unwell I would let triggers snowball and turn into waves of urges to engage in eating-disordered behaviors," she said, "but now if I can’t talk it out or figure it out in my head, I draw it out."

You can see more of Begnell's work on her Instagram page.

[H/T BuzzFeed]