Eating Disorders in Art

5 Artists who beautifully illustrate the pain of eating disorders

Whether you struggle with an eating disorder yourself or whether you love someone who does, you know that when it comes to describing what it’s like to have an eating disorder, you know that sometimes words escape us. Life with an eating disorder is complicated. The thoughts and emotions generated by disordered eating and body image are so woven into one’s being, that we can talk ourselves to death and still not feel we’ve explained it rightly. Some in recovery from eating disorders and some talented advocates have transposed these complexities into art. Below are just a few of these remarkable pieces.

Artist: Christie Begnell

Christie Begnell struggled with depression, suicide ideation, and disordered eating. During a stay at a mental health facility, she was frustrated. She wanted recovery, but she had difficulty expressing to staff and family exactly how she felt. So, she began drawing. It was both therapeutic and productive, as drawing gave her language to express her heart when words failed her. With the encouragement of staff and family, Christie launched Me and My ED, a social project that promotes eating disorder awareness and hope for recovery. After treatment, Christie went on to earn degrees in occupational therapy, health science, and psychology. Now, Christie is an artist, social activist, and author of four books about eating disorders and recovery.

Artist: Lauren Crest

Lauren Crest is a seasoned illustrator who did an artistic study on eating disorders. After researching the web for perspectives on the subject, Lauren found few resources that, in her opinion, aptly conveyed the intensely complex experience of someone struggling with and trying to recover from an eating disorder. In her sketch below, we observe an intimate few of the sufferer’s frustration.

Artist: Jenna Simon

Jenna Simon is a talented artist, actress, author, educator, and model. She began drawing as a child, but she experienced a breakthrough in expressive art therapy while receiving treatment for bulimia. Just when her life felt most out of control, art gave her struggle a voice.

Artist: Anneka Reay

British artist Anneka Reay was in art school when she realized the sketches of an emaciated woman that filled her notebooks was, in fact, herself. She dropped out of school to seek treatment for anorexia. She returned to her studies years later. Now in recovery, Anneka’s art conveys the depths of her own experiences with struggle and recovery, and inspires hope in others.

Artist: Katy Daiber

Katy Daiber started drawing in high school. In her poignant watercolor and pen from 2015, Alphabet Soup, Katy gives an intimate look at the dangerous thoughts and beliefs that threatened her life as she wrestled with anorexia nervosa. Illustrating her journey from struggle to treatment, and then recovery, Katy’s artwork helped her heal. Now, her works offer deep insight, understanding, and hope to others.

These and countless other artists’ works are available for viewing online. Many people who suffer with disordered eating find their voices through expressive arts, so it is understandable why expressive arts therapies are becoming part of integrated therapy and individualized mental health treatment.

Haven Hills Recovery – Trauma Informed Care for Women