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Meredith
28th February 2012, 19:18
February 26th to March 3rd is Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and a number of noteworthy projects have come up to mark the occasion.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/uploads/image/Images%20Sized%20for%20Homepage%20Panels/NEDAW%20Banner%20Ad.jpg

The most significant is that the U.S. Government -- which, under the current administration, has instituted an appalling and toxic official policy of bullying (http://www.judgmentofparis.com/board/showthread.php?t=2036) curvy girls -- has decided to do something right, for a change.

Many contributors to this forum have noted that size celebration should transcend political lines, just as curve-o-phobia tragically crosses political aisles. Thus, it's agreeable to see the creation of a new bi-partisan National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus in the U.S. Congress.

http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/in-the-news/news-release-detail.php?release=75&title=U.S.%20Congress%20Launches%20Bi-Partisan%20National%20Eating%20Disorders%20Awareness%20Caucus

The entire press release is worth reading, but here are the most significant statements:

U.S. Congress Launches Bi-Partisan
National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus

Partnership With NEDA is Landmark in New Approach for
Federal Legislation to Address Eating Disorders & Raise Awareness

NEW YORK CITY — Feb. 28, 2012 — The Congress of the United States has approved the creation of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Caucus, as announced today by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which since 2011 has determined that it is vital to build support from the ground up in our Congress in a strong bi-partisan manner.

The mission of the newly formed caucus, chaired by Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19) and co-chaired by Nita Lowey (D-NY-18), is to increase national awareness about eating disorders and support those who suffer by seeking to enhance prevention, facilitate therapeutic advances and improve access to treatment.

The announcement comes during NEDA’s 25th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness Week), Feb. 26-March 3, part of an ongoing mission to bring public attention to the critical need to raise awareness and funding to battle eating disorders in the U.S.

Commented Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, “The National Eating Disorders Association is most grateful to Representatives Nan Hayworth and Nita Lowey for agreeing to take on this House leadership role for our cause. They understand that this is a health issue, not a political one. By launching this congressional bi-partisan caucus, it is our hope that together we can all improve the lives of those affected by eating disorders … today and for future generations. Their work will help shine a national spotlight on legislative priorities to begin to support the millions of Americans who are suffering from these life-threatening illnesses.”

Said Hayworth, “As the only female physician member of Congress, I appreciate the unique opportunity I have to spread awareness about important health issues like eating disorders.”

Added Lowey, “Increasing awareness of eating disorders and improving access to prevention and treatment is critical for the physical and emotional health of women and girls, Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and I look forward to working with my colleagues to help improve body image and prevent the damage that eating disorders can cause.”

The outreach is in response to the epidemic crisis of self-confidence affecting girls and women in the U.S. and the increasing number of people suffering from eating disorders across the country. Numerous studies have found that the unrealistic, “ideal” body images presented in film and television, on the web and in magazines directly influences the development of poor self-esteem, disordered eating habits and/or full-blown eating disorders in those already at risk.

According to one recent study (Smolak, 2011), children, especially girls, by age 6 start to express concerns about their own weight or shape with 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) being concerned about their weight or about becoming too f**.

According to Rader Eating Disorder Programs: A study found that adolescent girls were more fearful of gaining weight than getting cancer, nuclear war or losing their parents. While only one out of 10 high school girls are overweight, nine out of 10 high school juniors and seniors diet. In 1970, the average age a girl started dieting was 14; by 1990 the average age dropped to eight. Dieting is highly correlated with depression.
I am particularly pleased to see that the press release acknowledges the fact that the media, via its images of cadaverous, underweight models and actresses, directly triggers eating disorders.

In terms of PR, I also found this item in the press release interesting:

To help promote NEDAwareness week this year, NYC’s Empire State Building will be lit in NEDA’s signature green and blue logo colors the night of Tuesday, Feb. 28, to put a spotlight on the fight against eating disorders.Sure enough, this is what the Empire State Building looks like this evening:

http://i42.tinypic.com/30t6ypt.jpg

It's nice to see this public expression of support for the fight against eating disorders.

http://i39.tinypic.com/14mqfdy.jpg

I'd like to see this new government caucus push for banning all underweight models, regulating the fashion industry (especially in New York, given that this is where the chairwomen are located), and mandating the use of visibly fuller-figured bodies in fashion, in advertising, and in film/television. As has been observed time and again, the media is both incapable and unwilling to police itself, therefore government legislation is the only thing that can curb thin-supremacist propaganda.

Furthermore, it's high time that the government stopped abetting the diet-starvation and exercise-torture industries in propagating the myth of a "weight epidemic" (which doesn't exist, and was created out of whole cloth by diet-industry money), and started paying attention to the real epidemic facing girls and young women today: the epidemic of eating disorders and negative body image.

M. Lopez
29th February 2012, 06:11
The National Eating Disorders Association, which organizes this awareness week, recently posted an insightful status update on its Facebook page:

Day 2 of NEDAwareness Week! Most models are thinner than 98% of Americans. Instead of trying to change our bodies, how about we try to change our culture?
That's exactly right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with full-figured women. But there is something very wrong with a culture that sees them as flawed rather than gorgeous, prevents them from recognizing their natural beauty, and dupes them into thinking that they should diminish themselves rather than love their luscious curves.

Modern media-controlled culture, which has displaced the traditional cultures of most Western countries (and is displacing cultures everywhere else around the globe), is a degenerate creation, and it must be reformed if possible or done away with altogether, and a renewed, traditional culture put in its place.

Incidentally, while the NEDIC site is rather bleak and clinical - hardly the sort of Web page that would capture young imaginations - the organization is affiliated with this, much more visually engaging project:

http://proud2bme.org/

I particularly like its "Stamp out bodysnarking" campaign. Snark of every kind is a uniquely toxic development of today's media environment, in which what was once the typically catty, sarcastic attitude of a certain kind of fey person has now become mainstreamed, in our Sexy and the City culture, into commonplace behaviour. It's the plebeian equivalent of the critical cynicism that pervades today's high culture, which has displaced traditional Western idealism and romanticism.

http://proud2bme.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/aef_article_main_page/arcpic/Bodysnarking%20homepage_0.jpg

It's nice to see a campaign organized against it.

Also, too many eating-disorders organizations focus exclusively on negativity. As the title of this site, "Proud To Be Me," implies, it welcomes the positive. One page asks readers to dwell on their best moments and celebrate them.

http://proud2bme.org/node/214

It comes with a delightful graphic.

http://proud2bme.org/sites/default/files/imagecache/aef_article_final_image/arcpic/proudmoment2.png

I can't help but think of how often traditional depictions of Aphrodite/Venus in Western art depict the goddess admiring her beauty in a mirror. As ever, the ancients had it right.

I think I understand why the Judgment of Paris venerates feminine vanity so much. It is a sure antidote to the relentless, destructive negativity fostered by modern culture - a culture that, as NEDIC rightly says, needs to be changed.

Kaitlynn
29th February 2012, 23:57
A while back, when anorexia contributed to Brittany Murphy's death, Glamour magazine published an important article that indicated the truly horrific consequences of self-induced starvation.

http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2010/02/what-eating-disorders-do-to-your-body

The magazine has published the piece online, and it's well worth reviewing:

What Eating Disorders Do to Your Body

Infertility
Not having enough body fat can halt ovulation. The good news is that for many women, fertility returns once they get healthy, and they don’t suffer any long-term problems, says Walter H. Kaye, M.D., director of the University of California, San Diego, eating disorders program.

Heart Problems
Anorexia literally starves the heart, making it weaker; dehydration from vomiting may cause electrolyte imbalances that can lead to cardiac arrest. Most of the damage is reversible once a woman reaches a healthy weight.

Tooth Loss
Women who frequently make themselves throw up suffer cavities and tooth loss, as stomach acid erodes enamel. “Can you imagine having dentures in your thirties? I’ve seen it,” says Jennifer Nardozzi, Psy.D., national training manager of the Renfrew Center eating disorders clinics.

Bloating
Eating disorders result in a host of digestive problems, from heartburn to constipation, many of which lead to abdominal swelling—something that, ironically, can make someone with a bad body image feel worse.

Medication Overdose
Typical drug doses are based on people of normal weight, so severely underweight women can overdose by accident. “Society applauds skinny stars, but there shouldn’t be such a fine line between looking ‘glamorous’ and being ill,” says Lynn Grefe, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. The simple truth: Eating disorders are serious—and any woman who’s suffering needs our support.

The last point is especially pertinent, tying in which the concept that we live in a sick society with toxic values, where malnourished, emaciated actresses and models who look like walking cadavers are absurdly paraded as paragons of "glamour" or health, while hale, generously proportioned plus-size women, whose hearty bodies indicate their physical robustness, are castigated as somehow being unhealthy.

The whole paradigm of physical well-being is completely inverted in our upside-down culture.

It's time for the truth about food deprivation and its ruinous effects on the body to be proclaimed far and wide, and it's long past time for the end of the frail, corpse-like look to be held up as a standard for women to emulate.

Lily
4th March 2012, 20:22
In another example of a government body acknowledging the seriousness of anorexia, the Kentucky State Senate recognized Eating Disorders Awareness Week a few days ago:

http://surfky.com/index.php/hopkinsville/235-statewide-kentucky-news/11457-senate-recognizes-national-eating-disorders-awareness-week

The sentiment is certainly commendable:

RANKFORT, KY (3/1/12) – The Kentucky State Senate has recognized that February 26 through March 3, 2012, as National Eating Disorders Week and honored the National Eating Disorders Association on the floor of the Kentucky State Senate.

“Eating disorders are a continually growing problem in Kentucky,” said Jerry P. Rhoads, D-Madisonville. “It is important to raise awareness about this issue so that our citizens will achieve a healthier lifestyle.”

Eating disorders are potentially life-threatening health conditions that greatly affect an individual’s health and well-being. Organizations such as the National Eating Disorders Association seeks to provide aid to those afflicted with eating disorders and prevent the spread of eating disorders among citizens by raising awareness, according to Senate Resolution 151 that passed unanimously.

An estimated 10 million females struggle with anorexia...Many more cases go unreported due to the lack of awareness of the symptoms of the disorders. Studies show that approximately 13 percent of Kentucky girls in grades five through eight and 18 percent of Kentucky girls in grades nine through 12 suffer from some type of eating disorder.

“Our goal is to reduce these numbers and save lives,” said Senator Rhoads, a co-sponsor of SR 151.
My only reservation is that while it's easy to devote a week to a specific cause, it's harder to actually do something concrete. I would have preferred to have heard about a Senate initiative to ban the use of underweight models or mandate the use of fuller-figured models.

Also, while this is a nice gesture, it's terribly easy, and lets the government seem like it's doing something without actually doing anything.

And we all know that government can get involved. Too much so, in other areas. By contrast, the invasive and intrusive quasi-totalitarian actions by state governments in bullying and shaming curvy girls, right down to policing their lunches and sending home humiliating report cards praising them for how much they've been starving themselves, have been appallingly aggressive.

It's almost as if, with paper resolutions, governments are acknowledging the crisis of eating disorders, but with their concrete actions, they are causing them.

It's time for all government bodies to wake up to the reality that there is no "weight epidemic," except for the epidemic of curvy girls worrying needlessly about their weight and about their naturally full figures and generous appetites.

It's time for government to stop aiding and abetting diet/exercise corporations and their profiteering agenda, and to start caring about the girls whom these corporations' actions victimize.