When thinking about an eating disorder, the first images that may come to mind are those of an emaciated white female with ribs and hips exposed. This image is a portrayal of the most severe cases of anorexia. However, the images that are left out by media and public attention are more common in real life — eating disorders encompass a wide range of bodies and people, including those overweight and at a normal weight. Therefore, by only portraying a skinny model, thousands of others are excluded and deemed “not sick enough.”

There is no criterion for appearance that needs to be met in order to be sick enough. The types of anorexia in which the person is not underweight are classified as OSFED, or other specified feeding and eating disorders. This diagnosis encompasses the symptoms of those who suffer from an eating disorder, but do not meet the criterion for anorexia or bulimia.

Though rarely spoken about, OSFED is the most populated area for those who suffer from eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), these disorders kill the most sufferers, with a 5.2 percent mortality rate (anorexia at 4.0 percent and bulimia at 3.9 percent). Health complications vary because the behaviors involved can be a mixture of anorexia and bulimia. It is a major hinderance to global health to keep this diagnosis fairly unknown.

This is not meant to downplay the severity of anorexia or bulimia, but rather to bring this illness to light. While it is often considered a lesser or “mini” eating disorder due to the perception of reduced severity, the opposite is true. The destructive behaviors and symptoms do not need to fall under a specific list; the eating disorder can shift from one behavior to another. It can be more difficult for skilled professionals to detect, as it does not follow a specific path or symptomology.

The severity is downplayed by many factors: those who are undereducated or unaware about this group of disorders, the media that portrays eating disorders as one way, the diagnostic criteria that stipulates a weight requirement to be classified as anorexia and insurance providers who are unfamiliar with this diagnosis and less likely to cover the high costs of treatment. Often, it goes undiagnosed for longer because the signs are more hidden. There may be no evident weight loss, because there is no criteria of weight or body mass index. This makes it easier for a person to be suffering and be completely unaware that they have a disorder in the first place.

By the same token, less publicity about OSFED leads those who are suffering to believe that they are not sick enough. In those who suffer with atypical anorexia, or the symptoms of anorexia at a normal weight, the “goal” of those who are sick is often to lose is often to lose more weight until they become underweight and actually look anorexic. Therefore, by using more destructive behaviors more frequently, they can be “sick enough.” This is simply not right. One is not sick or healthy based on a diagnosis. It is subjective to the individual, who can be at any weight and whose illness can be at any severity to receive treatment.

All students at Binghamton University should care about eating disorders because of the population that it affects the most: high-achieving, perfectionistic people who tend to place pressure on themselves. A definition that may as well be that of a student.