WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss was very candid in an interview she did on ESPN SportsCenter with Jonathan Coachman. She may play a heel on WWE programing but she is an inspiration in real life. She is a champion both in and out of the ring.
During her interview she explained that she has battled with Anorexia. She has had two different episodes in her life that forced her into hospitalization. During her last hospitalization she was so malnourished that her organs were in danger of shutting down. She was 80 lbs. and starving herself. The doctors didn’t even want her to fall asleep because they were afraid she may go into cardiac arrest, and she was 24 hours away from certain death. Bliss opened up about her struggles, “That’s kind of why I’ve really been open about it because I remember looking through magazines and watching TV, wondering why I can’t look like those girls. Like, ‘What’s wrong with me, why cant I look like that?’ I want to be that person that shows it’s okay. I’m 5 foot, I’ve got a thick body, I love it. I’m curvy, I’m strong. I would trade that for being the 80 pounds that I was and being afraid if I was going to wake up the next morning. Like Sara says, it’s not a sprint – it’s a marathon. It’s a day by day process. You have to know your life means more than a number on a scale.”
By opening up about her struggles Bliss gives other women hope that they can overcome theirs. According to the National Eating Disorder Association 10 million men and 20 million women in the US will suffer from a clinical eating disorder sometime in their life. Those staggering statistics are very eye opening. The most eye opening statistic however is this; among mental illnesses eating disorders are the most deadly. For females between fifteen to twenty-four years old who suffer from anorexia nervosa, the mortality rate associated with the illness is twelve times higher than the death rate of all other causes of death (Sullivan, 1995).
In a world that is still centered around men we need to do a better job. We are a society that is obsessed with beauty. As a society we have placed an importance that the number on the scale matters more than other beautiful qualities that exist in our loved ones. As men we need to do a better job lifting up our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives and let them know they are beautiful for who they are.
According to the National Institutes of Health research dollars spent on Alzheimer’s Disease averaged $88 per affected individual in 2011. For Schizophrenia the amount was $81. For Autism $44. For eating disorders the average amount of research dollars per affected individual was just $0.93. Awareness needs to be raised for this horrible illness. I applaud Alexa Bliss for standing up and talking about her struggles. Her message of hope needs to be heard. We need to not be afraid to let others know we are struggling. Chances are there is someone out there struggling just like you. It is time we lifted the stigma not only from eating disorders but all other mental illness as well.
If you or someone you know is suffering(or you think they may be suffering) from an eating disorder I encourage you to go NEDA’s website. There you can find answers to the questions you may have as well as resources and ways to get help if you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder.