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Continuing Awareness, Education Efforts for Eating Disorders

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

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.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

The Anna Rexic costume is horrifying! The only reason to go so a food diet is to lower your cholesterol or weight. The message being sent to young people these days is guaranteed to produce long-term devastating effects for at least a couple of generations.


October 9, 2011 - 4:02am
EmpowHER Guest

I was also absolutely disgusted by the Anna Rexic costume and mentioned it in my blog post concerning the use of mental health themes at Halloween eg psychiatric patient costumes, 'haunted asylum' theme park attractions etc. It's really good to draw attention to how devastating eating disorders are and work towards more help for those who need it.


October 7, 2011 - 7:33am

I just wanted to say, I really appreciate this article. It is true that E.D's are not taken seriously. I have read the book "Life without ED" while I was in Sheppard Pratt Eating Disorder Facility. The author of the book paid of visit to Sheppard Pratt a few months after I left, but unfortunately I couldn't make it since the facility is 2.5 hours away from where I reside. Friends of mine from the facility did have the honor of meeting her though. She is a very strong, insperational woman. And about the costume, "Anna Rexia"...that is just absolutely rediculous.

October 6, 2011 - 8:56am
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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.