'When weight-loss becomes the loneliest feeling in the world.'

When I was around 22 I was the thinnest I’ve ever been – I was also experiencing the darkest days of my life.

I was battling an eating disorder and serious mental health issues – both of which I wouldn’t seek help for, or even fully comprehend, until years later.

I didn’t confide in anyone and on the outside – to the people around me – I looked like I was thriving.

Watch: How Mia deals with her anxiety. Post continues after video…

We’ve been conditioned to believe that thin is best and that anyone who manages to drop a few kilos deserves – and is seeking – our unconditional praise. That all weight-loss is good weight-loss. But in reality, it’s not.

If you look beneath the surface, there’s often a lot of pain and suffering masquerading as a slimmer figure.

Bad weight-loss can take many forms – someone who’s dropped a considerable amount of weight could be silently suffering from an eating disorder, they might be experiencing loss and grief, or going through a really stressful period.

Perhaps they’re so riddled with anxiety they can’t even stomach the smallest amount of food – no matter how much they try. Or they could be battling a health issue, one which has taken away all their strength and diminished their fat reserves.


Most of these forms of bad weight-loss have one thing in common – the person who is experiencing them is not rejoicing in their new body – they’re probably not even thinking about it.

When a tabloid magazine recently posted a photo of a thinner-looking Lena Dunham – alongside the cover line ’20 slimdown diet tips stars are using’ – they presumed her weight-loss was planned. They concluded that she had taken steps to change her diet, and exercise more, in order to ‘shed a few kilos’. But they were wrong.

Dunham was quick to respond to the image on Instagram, listing the real reasons she’s recently lost weight. The 30-year-old writer, actor and producer explained that a combination of anxiety, stress and the constant pressure of dealing with online trolls, had resulted in her smaller frame.

20 slimdown diet tips! 1. anxiety disorder * 2. resultant constant nausea 3. an election that reveals the true depths of American misogyny 4. constant sweaty dreams of dystopian future 5. abdominal adhesions pinning ovary below uterus * 6. baseless but still harrowing threats to physical safety online and through smail mail 7. watching institutions you love from Planned Parenthood to PBS be threatened by cartoon mustache-twirling villains 8. finally realizing superheroes aren’t real (specifically the X-Factor, really thought they’d handle this) 9. marching your ass off 10. a quiet rage that replaces need for food with need for revenge 11. sleeping 19 hours a day 12. realizing that even the liberal media wants dem clicks no matter whut 13. worrying ceaselessly about the health and safety of women you know and women you don’t 14. realizing who ya real friends are 15. having to switch from Uber to Lyft (lots of calories burned trying to understand a new app, then even more trying to understand if the conflict was resolved) 16. bladder spasms, urinary frequency and urgency * 17. having your phone number leaked and violent images texted to your phone by randos under names like 18. keeping your back arched against the wind 19. um, who the fuck cares? 20. I have no tips I give no tips I don’t want to be on this cover cuz it’s diametrically opposed to everything I’ve fought my whole career for and it’s not a compliment to me because it’s not an achievement thanx * Star indicates a pre-existing condition

A post shared by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on May 7, 2017 at 9:55pm PDT


It was bad weight-loss and it was not something she had ‘achieved’.

I know exactly how Lena must have felt when she saw this magazine cover – confused, devastated, unseen. I felt exactly the same way every time someone complimented me on my new figure and said I was looking great.

It’s a very strange feeling to be complimented on your external appearance, when on the inside, you’re silently suffering.

That’s why you should never compliment a woman on her weight-loss – unless you know, for sure, this is a healthy change she’s chosen on her own free will.

When food is the enemy on the Nitty Gritty Committee. Post continues…

Yes, it’s instinctual – you see someone looking thinner and immediately equate it with a change in lifestyle, and therefore want to compliment them. I’ve done it myself. Only, I instantly regretted it when I remembered how misunderstood and confused I felt when I was in their shoes.

When you’re complimenting someone on dropping a few dress sizes, you could actually be congratulating them on being so sad or so anxious that they can’t even eat. And that’s the loneliest feeling in the world.

If this post has brought up any issues for you, please call The Butterfly Foundation on 1800 334 673 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.