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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Do You Know Someone Suffering from an ED?

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter
Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

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.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Add a Comment7 Comments

Ann Olson Blogger

Thank you for posting this. As a survivor it frightens me how many disordered eating behaviors are promoted through the media. Let's stop punishing our bodies...our bodies don't deserve it.

January 20, 2012 - 2:46pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Amen. The latest craze of "The war on Obesity" has lead to "size" and "health" being considered one and the same, to no one's benefit. This is a potentially dangerous oversimplification that leaves much to be overlooked and/or ignored. Eating disorders are only one of the issues that fall between the cracks, but certainly one of the most serious. Making healthy choices in regards to diet and exercise become easier when you know you will be loved no matter what size you are. Shame is not an effective motivator for healthy change.

January 20, 2012 - 1:14pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

It's incredible how little emphasis our society puts on self-acceptance.

Throughout our lives, we will suffer, change, and grow, but we ourselves (mind and body) remain. Whatever you are recovering from, be it injury, trauma, abuse, addiction, eating disorder, body dysmorphia, etc., self-acceptance is needed. Self-acceptance does not entail "giving up" or stagnating but rather a commitment to kindness and self-care of the most important kind.

January 20, 2012 - 8:09am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Well said.

January 21, 2012 - 12:55pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

When fitness and health are actually the yard stick by which we measure fitness and health in our society, the pressure on young men and women to force their bodies to fit a shape and size image won't be present - imagine what healthy, happy, productive young adults this would create!

January 20, 2012 - 7:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm so glad to see more attention being paid to the issue of disordered eating and its causes. If we, as a culture, could focus on *health* instead of size, I think we'd *all* be a lot better off -- whatever size we are.

January 20, 2012 - 5:45am
The Real Cie

Body dissatisfaction isn't a new problem but I do think it is increasing. Most models are photoshopped to impossible perfection, and even the very slender ones are sometimes photoshopped to make them even more slender. Women with average/midsize bodies are decried as "fat" and some people see being fat as literally worse than having cancer. Our views as a society are terribly erroneous and destructive.
I do have an eating disorder myself. I currently am not forcing myself to vomit but I often react to personal criticism by first binging and then starving myself for several days afterwards. I think that the fact that I became bulimic at 13 and the extreme dieting that I did throughout my teens, twenties, and thirties wrecked my metabolism. Now in my late forties, I'm trying to accept myself as I am and not see exercising as a means to losing weight but as a means to gaining strength, lung capacity, and other positive things. I actually like to exercise but tend to avoid it because I equate not losing weight with failure. It's a very difficult battle.

January 20, 2012 - 1:30am
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