There's definitely a stereotype for the "kind of person" who suffers from an eating disorder, and like other stereotypes, it's not true. In the US alone, 30 million people will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lives, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Assuming that they're all the same kind of person — the same gender, race, body type, or background — isn't just inaccurate. For people outside that stereotype, it can be stifling, a way of erasing their voice from the struggle.
In a new video and campaign, NEDA is looking to change that. The organization is encouraging people struggling with eating disorders and body acceptance to share their stories on social media and beyond. It's all a part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which runs Feb. 25 to March 3. The theme is "Come As You Are," meant to underscore the message that everyone's story is valid and has a place in the conversation.
"Eating disorders can impact anyone, no matter their size, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, social economic status, or ethnicity," said Claire Mysko, NEDA's CEO, in a press release. Everyone, she said, deserves body acceptance and a place in the community.
Sharing Their Stories
The video is a piece of that. It features interviews with five eating disorder recovery heroes, who talk about the struggle to voice their story in a community where they didn't always feel like they fit. "I didn't really have language to talk about eating disorders," said Gloria in the video. Ryan added, "I don't really remember the conversation around eating disorders and men."
They talked about sharing photos and their stories on Instagram as a way to connect with others and use their stories for good — even though it was difficult to post those less-than-perfect photos and be open and vulnerable. "That's the way that we break isolation, is through connecting," Gloria said. Watch the full video above, and visit the NEDA site for more information about the campaign.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, find resources and help at the National Eating Disorders Association or call their hotline at (800) 931-2237.