While people of all sexes, races, ages, and orientations struggle with eating disorders, girls and women are disproportionately affected. There is no definitive proof that eating disorders have a biological or biochemical basis, but there is little doubt that there are many possible factors, including a person’s individual psychology, her relationships with her family and friends, as well as the more general environment that judges women first, last, and always by their bodies. When that same enviroment also gives women fewer arenas over which to exercise power and control while giving them ever more unattainable physical ideals…well, that might be why as many as 10 million U.S. American women and girls deal with eating disorders.
The mission of NEDAwareness Week is “to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.” I think this two-pronged approach is great, because while of course prevention is ideal, destigmatizing is crucial, because the stigma surrounding ED is not only keeping people who are suffering from seeking the help they need and deserve, but also contributing to a climate that discounts food- and body-issues as shallow, shameful, “girly” issues. Fuck that noise. Women are dying.
There are a number of public events you can get involved with: walks and movie screenings in Seattle and New York, as well as quite a bit of work on college campuses. Go to NEDAwareness Week’s website for info on what you can do to help yourself and others. If you don’t do anything else activist-y this week, click though to the NEDA site and do some reading in their “Information and Resources” section.
I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, but I sure enough know how to hate on my own body, and I found that a lot of what I read at the NEDA site spoke to me, too. I would refer anyone there, or to Health at Any Size, another body-positive site, for a much-needed reality check on health and body image issues.
Educate yourself, so you can educate others. Take care of yourself, and take care of your sisters, too.