Think of all the men and women you’ve encountered in your lifetime. Chances are, you’ve met someone or even have a close friend or family member who has an eating disorder.
This concept is the theme of the upcoming National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which will be held Feb. 26 to March 3, according to a NEDA press release. The theme, “Everybody Knows Somebody,” suggests that while eating disorders are more in the open now and there is more awareness, there is still progress to be made.
“I do believe that there is less of a stigma to having an eating disorder and talking about it, based on a national survey we conducted in 2010,” said Lynn Grefe, the president and CEO of NEDA, in an email. “However, I do believe that there is continual growing body dissatisfaction and we need to address it.”
This year, which is the 25th anniversary of the awareness week, the Empire State Building will be lit up in green and blue in honor of the fight against eating disorders, since these colors are part of NEDA’s logo, she said. NEDA also recently launched at the end of last year a new website for teens called Proud2Bme.org, which provides resources centered around body image, self-esteem and eating disorders.
Since body image is a major issue along with eating disorders, Grefe has a suggestion on how to continue the fight against these issues.
“We believe a major first step would be to require disclose on digital alterations on media images of people,” Grefe said. “Young people don’t understand that these are not real images, so at least once someone can read, they would understand that these images have been altered. I actually saw one ad where the woman’s head was wider than her hips. Sadly, these images can really have an impact on people vulnerable to low self esteem and eating disorders.”
Grefe also has advice for what you can do once you know someone who has an eating disorder and/or body image issues.
“I believe that the first step is not to judge just based on appearance,” she said. “We know that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes.