(The content of this article may be disturbing to some readers.)
When 27-year-old Anne Marie Sengillo shared images from her recovery from anorexia on Imgur, she was hoping to inspire other people with the illness, showing that recovery is possible.
Instead, her pictures ended up in an article about "amazing" weight-loss transformations.
Viral news website The Chive included Sengillo's pictures in a March 23 article featuring before-and-after pictures of men and women who had lost significant amounts of weight.
When she heard about the article, Sengillo described her disgust and frustration in an Imgur post: "My transformation from 150lbs to 70 and then 90lbs is NOT something I want anyone to see and think 'Wow! I want to look like her!' I was very sick in that second photo. I exercised for 4-5 hours a day and ate less than 800 calories."
The website has since removed Sengillo's pictures from the article, and issued an apology on their site:
We had previously discovered the photo somewhere out there in the internet echo chamber which contained no frame of reference whatsoever. We obviously had no idea Anne Marie had anorexia but that doesn’t excuse the action at all. It was a mistake, completely unintentional, and the photo was removed the second we found out about it.
This unfortunate series of events shows just how damaging images of weight loss "progress" can be without context. According to Sengillo, her disease consumed years of her life and left her thousands of dollars in debt.
Sengillo hopes that this experience will bring awareness about eating disorders, and spread her message to other people suffering from disordered eating.
“In your darkest time, you’ll think that nothing can get better, but talk to your therapist, talk to your doctor," she told BuzzFeed. "You’re not alone.”
Need help? Call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.