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Not Alone With Anorexia On Bravo’s ‘Married To Medicine’ by Kari Wells

By Kari Wells

I was so excited to get this response from Karenna on Facebook after the “Married To Medicine” segment on Bravo. It’s nice to know we’re not alone and that there are others out there who have gone through anorexia and eating disorders like I have. #married2med @kariwells_

 

Dear Kari,

I am writing you because I want you to know that someone is in your corner. I too am an anorexic survivor. It almost killed me. At the age of 17 I wound up with blood poisoning and I weighed 83 pounds & even at 5ft that’s not much. The lab tech told my mom my blood was like water there was nothing to it. My fever was over 104 they had to packed me on ice in an attempt to break the fever.

Well thank God here I am today, although I have it under control I still have anorexia with me I don’t think one ever really gets over it I just think one learns how to get control over it and I have learned to be more accepting of my body as well. I know it’s a more complex than that but I don’t have enough room to type it all LOL!

Well any way, I am so proud of you for how you handled yourself! You are a class act and a real lady! The rest should take lessons….\I felt sorry for you though because you were all alone & it seemed no one had your back! So I just wanted you to know that you are not alone. I really admire you.

Hugs, Karenna

 

April 21, 2013

Bravo Atlanta’s ‘Married To Medicine’ And Anorexia

By Kari Wells

Most of the cast members of the Bravo shows “The Housewives of Atlanta” and “Married To Medicine” are African-American. I’m on “Married To Medicine,” also set in Atlanta and I’m not black. I’m about as British and as white as a woman can get. It’s not like I have any choice.

I also overcame anorexia, an eating disorder that I had as a young woman—an eating disorder that Quad, a #married2med cast member, dug up out of my past and flung at me on national television. It’s one of the ways I’ve been able to take control of my destiny, my most important message for women watching the show.

But no matter. Quad’s egregious mistake might be because she thinks anorexia is for white girls of a certain class. The best case for what she did to me on the Bravo show is that she inadvertently has raised awareness of eating disorders among whites, Latinos, and blacks. So thank you for that, Quad.

One of the studies I cited in a previous blog said eating disorders cut across all these boundaries. But another article, also in Psychology Today and written in response to the first, says “eating disorders [are] understudied in African-Americans.” Written by Monnica Williams, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at the University of Louisville, the article insists:

Little was known about disordered eating in Black people until recently. Clinically, African Americans were under-represented in treatment centers and research studies about eating disorders, so it wasn’t clear if they were immune from such disorders or if social and cultural factors were imposing a barrier to treatment.

The National Survey of American Life (NSAL) conducted a comprehensive nationwide study of African American and Caribbean Blacks to answer these and other important mental health questions plaguing the Black community…. The findings matched up with previous research showing that anorexia is rare among African Americans. In fact, not a single woman in the study met criteria for anorexia in the previous 12 months, and there were no reports at all of anorexia in Caribbean adults.

But the same could not be said for bulimia, according to Dr. Williams:

“Lifetime prevalence rates found for bulimia in Black Americans is 1.5% for adults, which is slightly higher than the national average of 1.0%. The average age of onset is 19 years, which is the same as the general population. Thus, rates of bulimia among Blacks may not be as uncommon as once believed.  This finding could be an indication that Black people do feel pressure to conform to the American ideal of thinness, contributing to the higher rate of bulimia, although not to the more extreme level that is connected to the development of anorexia.”

 At the very least, two cast members of “Married To Medicine” on Bravo—Quad and me—can agree on one thing: eating disorders are horrible, vicious diseases, and those who overcome them should be praised and not raked over the coals.

April 19, 2013

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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