Kari Wells
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My Story by Kari Wells

Anorexia Is Not Just About White Girls

You might know me as Kari Wells, one of the cast members of “Married To Medicine” on Bravo Sunday nights, the show that is a follow up to “The Housewives of Atlanta” and set in the same city. It’s one of those Bravo show where you’ve come to expect drama, intrigue, and more than the occasional backbiting.

But #married2med crossed a line for me this season when Quad, one of the cast members” called me “anorexic” without warning on national television. She meant it as an insult and it hurt deeply.

Yes, I was anorexic as a young woman and it was a disease I overcame with hours and hours of help from a therapist. To have it brought up again on “Married To Medicine” on national television —as an insult, not a disease—left me in tears and shaken to my very core.

How could anyone be so mean?

But as the hurt receded I started to wonder whether Quad just didn’t know any better, whether she associates the disease with white girls of a certain socioeconomic class. I wondered if Quad actually realized that eating disorders can  cut across race, color, and creed to affect whites, Latinos, and Blacks in equal measure.

Though not everyone agrees, no less an authority than Dr. Marcia Herrin, the founder of Dartmouth’s nutrition programs, says as much in Psychology Today:

1. Eating disordered behaviors in community studies were found to be equally prevalent in Latino, Blacks and whites.

2.  Latinos and Blacks are more likely to suffer from bulimia than anorexia than whites do.

3.  Ethnic families are less likely to be knowledgeable about eating disorders.

4. Compared to whites, Latino and Black patients with eating disorders are more likely to be evaluated by general practitioners than by mental health providers leading to “under-detection.”

You can read Dr. Herrin’s entire article here. But there’s no doubting the conclusion that anyone who thinks of anorexia and eating disorders as a “white” disease should think again. That may include at least one cast member of “Married To Medicine.”

The whole controversy speaks to my hope that women will get control of their destiny, financial and otherwise. That’s the reason I agreed to do “Married to Medicine” in the first place.

 

April 17, 2013

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