Yesterday was the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week--the flurry of news stories and blog posts and tweeted statistics is pretty hard to miss if you're hooked in to the ED community. The stories are all over the place, not just in quality, but also in message. I started to think about NEDAW not from the perspective of a person with an eating disorder, but to try and think about it as someone who didn't know a thing about EDs.
And to be honest, I'm not sure what I should be thinking.
Eating disorders are caused by enmeshed families, by our messed up culture, by genetics and biology. You can recover from an eating disorder, an eating disorder will always be with you. Understand the cause of your ED to recover, just recover.
It makes me wonder what the point of Eating Disorders Awareness Week really is. Okay, yes, thank you, Captain Obvious: to raise awareness of eating disorders. But I'm wondering what that really means. I "knew" what eating disorders were when I was in middle school. I would have laughed out loud if someone told me I would develop one in college, but still. Most people probably know what eating disorders are. The words "anorexia" and "bulimia" are on enough magazine covers and tabloids that people recognize them.
Of course, having a vague understanding of what an eating disorder looks like isn't the same as actually understanding what an eating disorder is. My problem is that I'm not always sure that the information being published this week really makes any of this clearer.
I'm not anti-NEDAW. I think we desperately need to spend time making people more aware of what eating disorders are, what recovery is like, and what issues are faced by people with EDs and their families. Most people haven't a clue. Compassion is a valuable--and rare!--resource. We need more understanding employers and insurance companies that aren't douchebags. We need doctors that don't say stupid things and family members who at least have a clue.
Nor am I sure that making people more aware of eating disorders will do much in the way of prevention. Awareness of EDs has increased in the last few decades, and although the numbers are hard to come by, it's obvious EDs aren't decreasing. There's the idea that once you learn what eating disorders are, you won't be stupid enough as to actually go and get one. Doesn't work that way.
What do you think? What aspects of EDs do you think need more awareness? How can we create this awareness?
- binge eating disorder
- biology of EDs
- body image
- disordered eating
- eating disorder
- Grand Theory of Eating Disorders
- narrating anorexia
- normal eating
- obesity hysteria
- weight gain
- weight loss
- Carrie Arnold
- I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.
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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote
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