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Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Award Ceremonies Trigger Insecurities

By HERWriter
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With the Grammy Awards and Academy Awards this month, it might be challenging to love your body just the way it is. It’s human nature to compare yourself to celebrities and people with power and fame, even if it’s not realistic or beneficial.

But don’t forget that National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is Feb. 24, 2013 to March 2, 2013. This week is a reminder that you are fine just the way you are, and you are not alone.

Many other people have the same insecurities, and some people even develop eating disorders, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Poor body image and low self esteem can be major contributing factors to eating disorders, so it’s important to stop comparing yourself negatively to others and start loving yourself completely.

“The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately increase outreach and awareness of eating disorders and body image issues, while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment resources,” according to the official website.

“Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses - not choices - and it's important to recognize the pressures, attitudes and behaviors that shape the disorder.”

Lynn Grefe, the president and CEO of National Eating Disorders Association, said in an email that although the theme for this year’s awareness week is the same as last year’s, “Everybody Knows Somebody,” this year is more focused on “diversity in the population” instead of last year’s focus on people’s individual roles (mother, sibling, father, etc.).

“We are working very hard to stress that eating disorders know no boundaries,” Grefe said.

During this week, the National Eating Disorders Association also partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc., to create the website www.mybodyscreening.org/ which allows people to take free and anonymous self-assessments to find out if they might have an eating disorder.

Grefe said that in the past year, there have been some specific advances in body image and eating disorder awareness.

“Models speaking out about the fashion industry, the pressures to be thin, the working conditions in that industry – and also the unrealistic, photo shopped images,” Grefe said.

“It is our hope to have legislation soon to require disclosure on images of people if they have been altered.”

Although it’s just a coincidence that the awareness week is held during the same month as many celebrity award ceremonies, the fact is that media and celebrities can influence many people, and not just in positive ways.

“I believe that celebrity in itself is not a problem, but the talk from some of dieting, how people stay slim, their images photoshopped, contribute to some in the public to have poor self-esteem and unhealthy body image, and potentially encourage unhealthy dieting behaviors,” Grefe said.

Susan Kleinman, a dance and movement therapist at the Renfrew Center of Florida, said that there are triggering issues or events every day, including images in media and on TV, that could impact people who are using disordered eating behaviors to cope with life issues.

“Celebrities, however, act as role models and as we watch them on the ‘red carpet’, at the Academy Awards and other high profile 'dress-up' events, being asked ‘who you are wearing,’ commenting on how thin they have become through cleanses and other diet procedures, and seeing with our very eyes how glamorous and confident they appear, the most vulnerable amongst us can be guided to focus their efforts on trying to emulate these visions,” Kleinman said.

During this awareness week, the Renfrew Center Foundation has their own campaign, the second annual "Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within" campaign.

“The goal of this campaign is to encourage women nationwide to go without makeup for one day in order to start a dialogue about healthy body image and inner-beauty,” Kleinman said.

Dr. Kim Dennis, CEO and medical director of Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center, said in an email that there is a more positive outlook in Hollywood, since it appears there are more celebrities of a normal weight who are in the spotlight now.

However, there is still a long way to go.

“Women celebrities who are comfortable in their own skin, who speak about being in recovery from an eating disorder, who celebrate their healthy bodies despite the fact that they they don't fit the anorexic mold, can have a positive and inspirational effect,” Dennis said.

“Celebrities who look anorexic and deny having any issues with food or body image, who celebrate being unhealthfully thin or brag about working out 3 or 4 hours everyday, can have a deeply negative impact.”


National Eating Disorders Association. NEDAwareness Week. Web. Feb. 20, 2013.

National Eating Disorders Association. NEDAwareness Week. Web. Feb. 20, 2013.

Kleinman, Susan. Email interview. Feb. 20, 2013.

Dennis, Kim. Email interview. Feb. 20, 2013.

Grefe, Lynn. Email interview. Feb. 19, 2013.

NEDA Live Helpline: 800-931-2237.

Reviewed February 21, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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great postsearch

March 14, 2013 - 2:28am
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