Eating disorders aren’t solely related to mental health, but often linked to broader cultural preconceptions of beauty, health, and gender. Like elsewhere, in Russia young women are often hit hardest, striving to follow beauty ideals promoted by the media and patriarchal society. With strict diets normalised, many end up struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive overeating.
Elena Moseykina and Daria Kashirina both have a history of eating disorders. Together, they founded Not Skinny Enuf, a cultural platform raising awareness about eating disorders in Russia. Both want to build a community through social media to ensure that no one suffers alone.
“Eating disorders are widely misunderstood illnesses, and support options are often inaccessible. As a result, too many people are left feeling helpless, hopeless, and frightened. Through our programmes and services, Not Skinny Enuf raises awareness, builds communities of support and recovery, funds research, and puts life-saving resources into the hands of those in need, ” says Kashirina.
Not Skinny Enuf seeks to use cultural tools to dismantle the stigma against eating disorders and promote body positivity. They use illustration, host talks on Instagram, and have produced a series of videos in which people talk openly about their experience with the illness. In the latest film, screenwriter Anton Outkine opened up about the place of eating disorders in his life and creativity, combined with lo-fi footage of his day in Moscow.
“In Russia, it’s still very hard to talk about these issues. It’s considered either unimportant or shameful. It’s a part of our mentality: it’s not common to talk about psychological problems like depression, bipolar disorder or eating disorders, especially among the older generation,” the founders say.
“We use as many tools as possible to create content which is accessible to people who don’t have any idea what an eating disorder is,” Kashirina adds. “At the same time, people with eating disorders who we are also trying to engage are not really interested in anything except food. So we also make videos to attract people with eating disorders into art. It helps to create a community to prevent people from isolating themselves with their own problems.”