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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2018

This week, February 26th – March 4th, 2018, is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The National Eating Disorders Association, NEDA, promotes the awareness for eating disorders year-round, but this week is especially focused on ED’s and their effects. This year, the theme is “Let’s Get Real” because many people’s stories go unheard or even unspoken due to old stereotypes. This week is all about expanding the conversation and putting an end to the stigma, so this article will address and try to set some of the major stereotypes straight. 

One of the first assumptions about eating disorders is that an individual affected is bound to be stick thin. Eating disorders affect people of any shape or size and are much more complicated than most think. You can’t tell if someone has one just by looking at their appearance. Individuals with an ED can be underweight, average weight, or overweight. This stigma really affects the willingness for most people to speak out. They feel like the validity of their disorder will be denied because they do not fit the stereotypical “anorexic” description. In reality, there is no guaranteed body type for ED’s, so don’t be so quick to judge certain physiques. Whether someone with one is 80 pounds or 280, their illness is just as valid and should be taken equally as serious. 

People also believe that eating disorders are a choice and can be stopped at any time. Mental illnesses are not a choice. Eating disorders are classified as mental illnesses that also have physical consequences. Individuals don’t choose to have an ED – it is out of their control. NEDA states that “while no one knows for sure what causes eating disorders, a growing consensus suggests that it is a range of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.” A combination of these factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, but all are out of control of the individual therefore, it is not their choice. One of the only choices involved is the ability to recover. This is something very hard for somebody with an ED to decide, so telling them to “just eat,” isn’t a solution. Recovery is a complex and often unpleasant process, but it is possible. 

Eating disorders do not develop to gain attention. This is another stigma that surrounds an individual with an ED. People are quick to think that they are losing weight or restricting their diet to please the social norms or to gain attention from their peers. Whenever the truth is that this is an internal battle. Diagnosed individuals are fighting against themselves to maintain their own standard of perfection. When they say they’re “fat,” it’s not for attention – that’s how they see themselves. They don’t say these negative comments about themselves to get attention or receive compliments, it’s a genuine view of how they perceive their body. So, if a friend of yours has a negative body image and makes comments like this, don’t get frustrated with them. It’s out of their control and just because they don’t like their body, that doesn’t mean they see a problem with anyone else’s. Its not about comparison, like I said – its an internal conflict. 

According to NEDA, 30 million Americans struggle with a full-blown eating disorder and there are millions more who battle food and body image issues that have untold negative impacts on their lives. Chances are, you know someone who has struggled with an eating disorder. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of eating disorders and knowledgeable on the warning signs and symptoms. For more information, resources can be found on NEDA’s website. Whether used to educate yourself on eating 

disorders or to reach out for help – it’s definitely worth the research. Especially this week, so do your part to help end the stigma. #NEDAwareness 

 

National Eating Disorder Hotline: (800) 931-2237 

 

HCXO, 

Ash

Just a girl with some big dreams -- taking every day as it comes + embracing this beautiful life. Saint Vincent College 2020 // Communication Major x Marketing + Biology Minor Hey there! I'm Ash -- the Campus Correspondent of our chapter. I love meeting new people and creating new things. I'm almost always behind my camera, if not just enjoying nature's beauty. I love being barefoot outdoors, embarking on new adventures. For me, life is all about the little things and writing is one of those small pasttimes I've fallen in love with. Here's where you can gain a glimpse into my world, the things that inspire me, and hopefully find some motivation explore what life has to offer and to pursue your passions unapologetically. "Very little is needed to make a happy life ~ find the beauty in simplicity" Let's connect on Instagram! @ashley_krause_ // @ashkcaptures
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