Every year, Eating Disorders Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of these mental health conditions that affect so many of us. This year, we were pleased to see some consistent messaging coming through for Eating Disorders Awareness Week, including:
As a nation, we need to educate ourselves on eating disorders.
Eating disorder charity Beat revealed that 34% of adults could not name signs or symptoms of an eating disorder. Understanding eating disorders and the way they manifest is so important because those struggling with the illness are unlikely to seek help themselves. They are likely to need the support and encouragement of those around them. We all have a responsibility to look out for each other.
Eating disorders are invisible illnesses that affect mental health, you cannot tell how healthy someone’s mindset is by the way they look.
Many articles, influencers and sufferers spoke out about the misrepresentation of eating disorders and that we need to stop associating physical appearance/weight with mental health. Those who could name a sign or symptom in Beat’s survey were twice as likely to list weight loss or being thin (62%) as a sign over any other, showing a lack of understanding in the wider world.
We need the whole story.
Rather than focusing on one demographic, eating disorder and representation, we need to step back and look at the wider picture. Eating disorders affect anyone, regardless of weight, race, gender or age. There are many different eating disorders which affect people in different ways. The medical system needs to take eating disorders seriously and not give so much importance to BMI.
Here are some great articles and videos we saw during the week spreading these messages:
- Cat Meffan speaking up about her experience of eating disorders in this video (warning, may be upsetting/triggering): Eating disorders and me.
- Grace Victory’s blog about how it feels to not fit the eating disorder ‘mould’: “You don’t look like you have an eating disorder.”
- Natasha Devon on the education system and representation in the media: Show children there’s more than one way to be attractive.
- Laura Phelan’s videos for #IHAVEEMBRACED campaign, this one features Rhiannon Lambert, Victoria Spence and Natasha Devon: I have embraced…
- Happiful’s articles on common misconceptions about eating disorders, the teen slimming class debate and how to encourage kids to develop a healthy relationship with food.
It was great to see such important conversations taking place, but now is the time for us to continue the conversation. We can only hope this week, a small drop in the ocean, has a ripple effect. Let’s keep us this momentum and keep fighting for better understanding and representation of eating disorders.