Eating disorders are one of the most talked about psychological disorders besides depression and anxiety, and there are many organizations and individuals attempting to prevent and treat them. But are these efforts producing any results?
In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week, which occurs from October 2 to 8, it’s time to look at what is currently being accomplished in regard to eating disorders. Society is still promoting thin as being the ideal body type, and despite awareness efforts, eating disorders are still not taken seriously.
For example, a Halloween costume made headlines for its promotion/sexualization of anorexia nervosa. The costume is a black dress with bones on it, and a red heart nametag saying “Anna Rexia.”
At the same time, efforts by organizations and individuals have not gone unnoticed, despite the massive amount of work that still needs to be done. The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) held the first National Weight Stigma Awareness Week from Sept. 26 to 30.
“We want to raise awareness around weight stigma and how a focus on weight rather than health and placing a higher value on ‘thin’ can, in fact, have a negative effect on the physical and mental health of a person-of-size — especially those who have or are predisposed to eating disorders,” said Chevese Turner, the CEO of the association, in a press release.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) works year-round to help people suffering from eating disorders. The association is hosting a teen summit on Oct. 15, along with its annual conference, to address body image issues that affect teens.
The teen summit is called “Making Real the New Ideal: Body Image, Self-Esteem & Media,” according to NEDA’s website.
While organizations are still hosting or sponsoring many awareness events, individuals are making a stand to educate others about eating disorders as well.
Jenni Schaefer, an author and ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association, said in an email that she has dedicated her life to awareness efforts.
“After battling an eating disorder for almost 20 years, I am finally recovered,” Schaefer said.