Bulimia and Anorexia are very similar, but different. Anorexia is excessively working out and starving to lose weight due to an unhealthy obsession of wanting to be “skinny”. They do not have to be underweight, but that is how they are typically characterized because that’s what it does to your body. Bulimia is excessively working out, starving, and purging to lose weight due to an unhealthy obsession of wanting to be “skinny”. They do not have to be regular weight or overweight, that is simply how they are typically characterized because that’s what it does to your body. They also typically follow a “binge eating cycle”. A “binge eating cycle” is when you binge on food, feel shame and regret, purge or take laxatives to get the food out (in the case of Bulimia), get depressed, binge, repeat.
One myth about both Bulimia and Anorexia is that the person is in control. To some extent, this is true. But the extent isn’t very far. It’s different for every person, but it is a disorder for a reason. Some people with these disorders can force themselves to eat, others cannot. It is not that they are not willing, it is that they are not able. It is not a choice that they are not eating. They cannot force themselves to eat the food. The food suddenly tastes bland and dry and they have no desire to eat it, no matter how delectable it is to a normal person. This desire to not eat the food is so strong, is becomes painful thinking about eating it. They can end up having a panic attack if pressured or forced.
Another myth is that all people with an eating disorder either have Bulimia, Anorexia, or Binge Eating Disorder (Binge Eating Disorder is when the person follows the binge eating cycle, but without the purging). This is completely false. Those are the main ones, but more often than not, people’s disorders don’t fit into those three categories and are instead classified as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS). EDNOS is a very general category, but fully encompasses all other eating disorders without having to come up with strange new names for them.
The final myth I will break is probably the most important and the least realized. Somebody having Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) does not mean they have an eating disorder. BDD is when a person has an obsession over a perceived flaw in their appearance. This could be they see their hair as atrociously ugly always, but they are the only person who sees it, and yet they spend hours a day “perfecting” their hair to look “pretty”. This could also be an underweight, skin-and-bones boy seeing himself as overly obese even though he’s clearly not. But just because they feel ugly does not mean they automatically also have an eating disorder. They could have both, and the likelihood of them having both is quite high, but it is not a requirement that if you have BDD then you must have an eating disorder.