By Kerri Kalinski, Social Media Intern
The theme for this year’s NEDAwareness (National Eating Disorder Awareness Week) is “Everybody Knows Somebody.” It’s likely that you know someone who was directly or indirectly affected by an eating disorder, whether they have the illness or know someone with an eating disorder. Or maybe you’ve read about a celebrity or two that has come forward about her struggles with eating or body image. The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to help prevent eating disorders and body image issues and to improve the accessibility to treatment.
Eating disorders are very serious, life-threatening illnesses that need to be treated. In the U.S. alone, estimates suggest that up to 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life or death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia (stats). There are millions more struggling with a binge eating disorder. A variety of factors may contribute to eating disorders but they typically begin with self-esteem issues and a preoccupation with food and body weight. (You can read more about signs, causes and long-term health problems related to anorexia on in our health topic, Eating Issues, Understanding Anorexia. You can also read about a variety of eating disorders, their risks and therapy on What’s Eating You?.)
Understanding the causes for body image issues and potential eating disorders is important because the cultural messages for girls (and boys) to conform to narrow ideal about beauty are so entrenched in our culture and media. Even this past week, the popular blogging site Tumblr announced a policy against pro-anorexia, “thinspiration” and self-injury glamorization blogs.
Do you know someone who might have an eating disorder? Do you not know what to do or say to them? If you are worried about a friend’s eating behaviors, then it is important to express your concerns about them in a very loving, supportive way. Also, don’t want to wait to talk to them. You should express your concerns early rather then wait until your friend has done more damage. The most effective and long-lasting treatment for an eating disorder is a form of psychotherapy or counseling along with attentions to medial and nutritional needs. Treatments are tailored to the individual person so seeking professional help is key for recovery especially since the severity of an eating disorder varies from person to person. NEDA has a information and referral helpline (1-800-931-2237) and information kits available for concerned family, schools and community organizations.
You can read more about two teenager girls who contributed a story to BodiMojo: Life With an Eating Disorder and My Struggle for Perfection. There are a lot of people affected by eating disorders but there’s also a lot of help and support out there too so if you know someone who may have an eating disorder, speak to them and help them get their life back on the right path to healthiness, happiness and positive body image.
- Check out BodiMojo’s Pinterest Boards for Positive Inspiration
- Take Quizzes on Body Image, Media, and Eating Concerns.
- Access NEDA’s toolkits and resources, and help spread the word this week and beyond.
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