This week was Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Studies show that approximately 30 million Americans live with an eating disorder, 10 million of those being men (Single Care). The goal of this week is to educate, spread hope, and provide resources, such as the National Eating Disorder Association or NEDA and the eating disorder hotline. This year, their message is "every body has a seat at the table." Here you can see the campaign plans.
Eating disorders are becoming more and more prevalent in our society. In fact, eating disorders are among the fatal mental illnesses and they are the third most common chronic illness among adolescent females in the United States (ANAD). A huge reason for this is social media's false perception of what the "perfect body" looks like. Most recently, society has seen that during the pandemic, people have been left with so many things out of their control. Thus, many people have turned to controlling their food as a form to cope with the stress (Schlegl et al.).
There are a lot of stigmas surrounding eating disorders (ED). They can affect people of all genders, races, ethnicities, and ages. Often, we only hear how women are affected, but EDs affect a wide range of people. There is a misconception that people with an ED are underweight, but in reality, most eating disorders do not present themselves like this. There are various types of eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, and Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (NEDA) and each one has different signs/ symptoms. What they share in common is that they all change lives greatly. There is also something called Disordered Eating, which can be a serious health concern that could be difficult to detect since that person may not display all the classic symptoms typically identified with eating disorders, but could also contribute to a person experiencing significant physical, emotional and mental stress. It is important to support all people and to acknowledge when people are struggling and to be aware that EDs can affect someone's mental, physical, and emotional health. Just because someone's case may not be as severe as another, this does not mean the individual deserves any less love, help, or attention.
We also must be aware of how we can help. This may mean knowing how to support people by either pointing them in the direction of helpful resources, or even understanding how certain language or conversations can be triggering. Talking about someone's weight, even if you feel like you are complimenting someone can be very damaging. Calling someone "skinny" can make someone feel insecure. Talking about your own weight, such as calling yourself "fat" or saying you need to lose weight can also really hurt someone who is listening. Of course, we all make mistakes, but we need to learn from them and work on positive affirmations for both ourselves and others.
As a way to raise awareness for those dealing with an eating disorder, the Medical Science Club and EJC committee invite you to join in The Body Positive Affirmations Project. Let's join together to spread positivity and to show our bodies love for all the hard work our bodies do for us every day. The first step in the project begins with an affirmation. On this Padlet, we would like everyone to please write at least one thing you love about your body or yourself and/or one thing that you are. Examples include: "I love that my body is able to keep me functioning even when I don't get enough sleep," "I love that my midsection holds vital organs necessary to life," "I love that my menstrual cycle will one day allow me/ has allowed me to have children," and "I am handsome with all my quirks and flaws." The responses will be anonymous, if you would like. Please keep everything school appropriate. Posts will be reviewed before made public. The Medical Science Club and the EJC look forward to collecting all of the responses and transforming them into something that will help make Wooster a more body positive environment for all! Let's all get together to accept our bodies and love them unconditionally!
These are all instagram accounts that are about body positivity!
If you have further questions about ED and/or need support, please reach out to an adult or use the Eating Disorder Hotline, (800) 931-2237.