Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why Wanting Attention Isn't Selfish

Lots of people say their ED isn’t about getting attention. It got me thinking, because sometimes thoughts run through my head: “I want to get so skinny that my bf gasps when he sees me. I want to get so skinny that my friend tells me he’s worried.” That’s totally about getting attention.
So what if someone’s ED is mostly about getting attention? Is that selfish?
I don’t think so.
The reason is that humans are built for social interaction. So if we don’t get enough attention we feel deprived and depressed. It’s healthy to want attention if you’re not getting enough of it. Similarly, humans have a need to feel accepted by their peers. If we don’t get that acceptance, we get depressed and crave attention. Same goes for romantic interest.
Wanting my friends to gasp at my stick-thin figure (once it is stick thin) is a clue to the fact that I want acceptance from them. Starving myself and overexercising was born out of the idea that I wasn’t worthy of romantic love.
If we seek out attention sometimes people call us vain and selfish because we want something for ourselves. The problem is that we might need more attention in order to feel like we’re getting enough, because we have to fill a gap that other people fill with their self-esteem. When we seek it out more often, people think we just want everyone to focus on us when that’s not the case.
There’s a difference between being an attention whore and trying to make life better for yourself. If someone seeks out attention but also gives it, as most people I know do, looking for that fix doesn’t seem selfish at all but friendly. 


  1. You're right. People crave attention and affection and acceptance. It's natural.

  2. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for posting this.

  3. I remember a lad asking me once if I had my eating disorder to get attention
    For me it's not about attention
    Yes I do want people to notice my weight but I also want to disappear from view
    It's a bit of a paradox I guess

    Nice post x

  4. Yeah, honestly its really nice imagining people turning their heads with surprise when I pass buy!

  5. My boyfriend will sometimes say things like "eating disorders are about being shallow" or something along those lines. Like he thinks it's just about looks. I've never known quite how to explain it to him that that's so completely untrue. But your post has helped me to formulate a more cohesive response to a remark like that. Thank you!


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