I still remember with nostalgia the stern voice of my grandma, “Is something wrong with my cooking – why aren’t you eating?” She constantly reminded me to eat – she begged me to. However, I was too scared to ask for help. I was scared of the judgement I would receive from my family. I thought to myself, “Latino’s don’t believe in mental disorders…
In the Latino community, food is often times associated with love and reunions. Food has so much meaning behind it – so much passion. It’s more than a mealtime…I remember my grandma would serve an excess amount of food; more than the norm – she constantly overloaded my plate. Although there is so much attention towards it, so many Latinos are concerned about their weight. For example, young girls who enter a caucasian institute – where the standards and eating habits are different – result in peer pressure in order to look a specific way. Furthermore, the Latino community is often left out of Eating Disorder studies, this not only provokes the false idea that Latinos are immune to Eating Disorders but shows how the Latino Community is underrepresented. Lastly, the media continues to focus on Caucasian women and Eating Disorders which shows how society shifts their focus from mental disorders affecting other races and ethnicities to Caucasian women, when it reality Eating Disorders affect EVERYONE.
Many Latino individuals, such as myself, were/are too afraid to seek help. They see mental illnesses as a sign of weakness. They fear the judgement they would get from their family and are scared they will not receive the help needed to improve their mental state. Myself included; I remember my stomach churning the day I confessed to my mom, “Mom, I think I have an Eating Disorder..” I was worried sick she would see me as nothing but weak – I feared my dad would view me as something opposite than a strong, independent woman. However, time revealed all the support and help needed to help me pursue recovery. I was able to get the psychiatric help I needed, the extensive therapies, and an unbelievable support system.
I encourage every individual to seek help, especially the Latinos who are afraid of rejection and of getting neglected – you are not alone! You are worthy of recovery and help – and me, along with others, do not see you as weak but rather victorious and undeniably full of strength for wanting to pursue a healthy balance between the mind and body. I know the fear recovery provokes, but with the correct help and support, recovery will provide the unforgettable gift of happiness.