Kristen Bryant-Bodies

NEDA Week: Come as You Are

February 24th to March 1st is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, or NEDA Week. NEDA Week is sponsored by the National Eating Disorder Association and takes place annually in order to give awareness and to destigmatize various types of eating disorders people face. Eating disorders can affect anyone, no matter age, race, gender, or socioeconomic class. In the US alone, at least 30 million people of all ages and sexes suffer from a diagnosed disorder and the number of undiagnosed patterns of disordered eating is even higher (ANAD.org). 

    For many people who have never experienced these disorders first-hand or have not watched a friend or relative struggle, the idea of eating disorders often brings up an image of a sickly-thin, white teenage girl looking sadly down at a scale. While this can be true, eating disorders and those who struggle with them can look an entire variety of ways. They can look like skipping meals days before a big event, exercising to the point of extreme fatigue, and anxiety surrounding spontaneous meals with friends. They come in any size or shape and that does not make them any less valid. 

    It’s hard to recognize when your friend or loved one is experiencing an eating disorder, it’s even harder to recognize one within yourself. It’s easy to tell yourself it’s just a simple diet and you don’t have a problem, afterall, your waist size isn’t 00 so how could you? This year, NEDA is encouraging you to “come as you are,” highlighting that anyone can struggle with eating disorders and you don’t have to fit into a box. Everyone’s struggle is individual and there is no “right” way to have an eating disorder. Come As You Are means to understand that you are valid, your feelings are valid, and recovery is possible for anyone. 

    This NEDA week and everyday after, remember that you are beautiful and your recovery is possible. Reach out to friends and family, the counseling center at your school, and talk to your doctor. You are stronger than you believe and you deserve to be healthy and happy, no matter what. Come as you are and be proud of it, too!