A (hopefully on topic) discussion
I am writing this post in response to a specific incident, and though it happened weeks ago, it isn't the first time such a thing has happened, and so I've taken some time to try to gather my thoughts on the subject. First of all, I think that one of the most important poor skills that any of us can have is to be kind. Simple kindness can be the difference between someone having a meal and going to bed starving, sleeping in their car or sleeping on a comfy couch, having a really awful day or having a day that wasn't so bad and allows them to look forward to tomorrow. Being kind is something that is written into the rules of this community, when the moderators ask us to be non-judgmental and to not argue back and forth. But there's an issue around which people have been very judgmental and rather unkind, and that's what I want to address with this post. Now, if someone is complaining about their feelings of depression, I think that most of us know better at this point than to simply tell them to snap out of it, that we are educated enough to realize there's often more to depression than someone simply feeling down in the dumps. If someone complains about how much they spend on cigarettes and how they wish they could quit, many of us would recognize this as an addiction and lend our support instead of browbeating them for smoking in the first place or sneering at them if they just can't quit cold turkey. But if someone makes a post in this community about being a “picky eater,” they get told to get over it, they get sneered at and mocked for something that is not merely a habit or choice; it is a psychological issue. I think part of the problem with people's reactions to this issue is simply a lack of awareness. So I'm not trying to incite drama, I'm simply trying to make you more aware. Picky eating or “selective eating disorder” is not generally as detrimental to a person's health and well-being as depression or smoking, and this is exactly why it is a disorder that has received very little attention until recently. But as scientists are beginning to research this, they are starting to realize that is is more prevalent than anyone realized and that it is a genuine disorder, and not merely a life choice. Generally it is not a huge issue, but even the mildest of the picky may experience anxiety in social situations to the point where some who are rigidly choosy choose not to go out with friends or visit family at all. I am picky for no apparent reason, as is my cousin (whose preferred diet is far more restricted than mine). One of my very good friends is picky because of specific events from her childhood, and so is my sister... but she only refuses to eat peanut butter. Some people are selective about textures and some are selective about the look and smell of certain types of food, but one thing is certain: we can not eat it. If forced to eat something, almost every picky eater will vomit. This is far beyond a six year old turning up his or her nose at broccoli just because it happens to not be chocolate, and it is insulting as an adult for this issue to be dismissed as such. And it certainly can't be a ploy for attention; after all, how is being embarrassed in front of your whole family, staying home from events because of anxiety about what is going to be eaten there, or insulting a friend by refusing to eat (or choking on) something they cooked a ploy for attention? If you're a masochist, maybe. I never made a conscious decision to gag and feel nauseated every time I tried spinach. My friend didn't make the decision to be force-fed green vegetables until the point where just seeing one made her feel sick. But even if avoiding these types of foods was our decision, why would you judge us for that? Why couldn't you simply accept our choice? Yes, some people whose diets are very restricted are difficult to help, but why not try helping them instead of trying to force your opinion on them or callously telling them to “get over it?” Why not choose to be kind? eta: Thank you all so much for keeping this whole post in the realms of civil discussion. I was so worried this post would start a flame war, since it's been a polarizing issue in the past, but everyone is being very mindful! So thanks!