Chevese Turner: A Study in Courage

October 20th, 2012

This material is from the Academy of Eating Disorders Listserv. This presentation is just one of many that are needed to begin to educate people about Binge Eating Disorder and Obesity.

ANAD, BEDA and NORMAL, three national nonprofits dedicated to education on bullying surrounding weight, have united their organizational efforts to produce a new documentary film titled Beneath the Floorboards—the true story of a mother and daughter as they struggle with binge eating disorder and the accompanying weight bias, shame and stigma that they experience. This film takes an intimate and personal look at their journey, and explores the bullying due to weight stigma that faces individuals living in larger bodies. Watch the trailer at www.BeneathTheFloorboards.org

Chevese Turner grew up in a Victorian-style suburban Pennsylvania family home built in the 1700’s. Beneath the floors of her bedroom were hidden an array of foods that were a stockpile to fuel a shameful eating disorder. These secret treasures soothed her during difficult situations in which she hoped to escape and would serve as the start of her lifelong struggle with binge eating disorder—a highly misunderstood and underreported psychiatric illness. Through Chevese’s story and the eyes of her mother, we see and feel how painful this illness is and the resulting bullying around body size can be. Chevese states “I hope that in sharing my journey, others can find hope and strength. It is time that we shift the way we look at health and weight and recognize that years and years of shaming people for their body size has never worked to motivate individuals to lose weight and, in fact, has contributed to weight gain and eating disorders.”

This is a compelling story, told artfully and thoughtfully, of a passionate and brave woman, whose determination encourages others to find empowerment through self-acceptance and mindfulness as she lives in a world that devalues individuals in larger bodies. This documentary travels from Chevese’s childhood to the present where Chevese is the Founder and CEO of BEDA, and an activist for binge eating disorder, body image, and weight stigma causes. Throughout the documentary, treatment professionals across many disciplines share their findings and shed light on the gravity of this predicament. Beneath the Floorboards presents an intense and personal look at bullying due to weight stigma, the insidious bias that assaults individuals living in larger bodies daily, and the feelings of shame, disordered eating, and other adverse effects that plague these individuals as a result of this bullying. Robyn Hussa, co-Director of Floorboards and Founder of NORMAL, states, “Weight bias is so ubiquitous, it has become socially acceptable. We need to join together to broaden our compassion towards individuals who suffer from these debilitating conditions and effect a cultural paradigm shift that embraces weight diversity.”

ANAD, BEDA and NORMAL, as Executive Producers of Floorboards, add another dimension to the commonly held view of weight and obesity in America. Their collaborative efforts aim to unite communities and to illustrate how shaming negatively affects individuals and the bystanders who often do not feel empowered to intervene. By combining their efforts, ANAD, BEDA, and NORMAL will have greater impact in their effort to change the current view of weight as a salient indicator of health and the general acceptance around bullying of children and adults based on the size of their bodies. Laura Discipio, Executive Director of ANAD states “Our society is falling short in the way we look at health; the film showcases the importance of having a societal shift in the way we think about bodies and weight. ”

ANAD, BEDA and NORMAL will premier a shortened version of the documentary, Beneath the Floorboards at the 4th Annual BEDA National Conference in Bethesda, MD on March 9, 2013. For more information, visit www.bedaonline.com.

Get involved with this documentary that hopes to create a movement to end bullying due to weight stigma by visiting our site: www.BeneathTheFloorboards. Watch the trailer here: http://youtu.be/necn8D2kQQw

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