Eating disorders are not a punchline.

By Faith Brar
October 05, 2017
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

Amazon is selling a sweatshirt that treats anorexia like a joke (yes, anorexia, as in the deadliest mental disorder). The offending item describes anorexia as "like bulimia, except with self-control." Mhmm, you read that right.

The hoodie in question has been on sale since 2015 by a company called ArturoBuch. But people just started to take notice, voicing their concerns in the product review section. Together, they're demanding that it be removed from the website immediately, but so far nothing's been done about it. (Related: What to Do If Your Friend Has an Eating Disorder)

"It is completely unacceptable to shame those who suffer [from] life-threatening eating disorders," one user wrote. "Anorexia is not 'self-control' but rather a compulsive behavior and mental illness just like bulimia."

Then there's this powerful comment: "As a recovering anorexic, I find this both offensive and inaccurate," she said. "Self-control? Are you kidding? Is self-control a mother of four dying at 38? Is self-control being committed to hospitals, court-ordered feeding tubes, and hiding food during meals so the staff thinks you ate it? More accurate: Anorexia: Like Bulimia...but glamorized by an ignorant public."

Amanda Smith, a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) and the assistant program director for a Walden Behavioral Care clinic, shared just how detrimental this kind of language can be for people who struggle with eating disorders. (Related: Could Tweeting About Your Weight Loss Lead to an Eating Disorder?)

"Only 10 percent of people who suffer from eating disorders seek treatment," she told Shape. "Seeing things like this only makes patients feel like their eating disorder is a laughing matter or a joke-like what they're going through isn't serious. That further prevents them from seeking the treatment or help that they need." (Related: The Epidemic of Hidden Eating Disorders)

Bottom line? "Taking all mental illness seriously is important. We have to start recognizing that eating disorders are not a choice and that people are really suffering and need help," says Smith. "It's by being caring and compassionate that we can make these people feel loved and supported."