March 4th, 2013
I may have mentioned before that if I only had a nice cape and beautiful tiara, I could change the world…if only. Last week, February 24-March 2, was selected as National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The theme this year was “Everybody knows somebody,” because awareness of ED is spreading, we learn that anyone in one way or another can be affected.
Honestly, I still get a little frustrated. I’m now living in a more rural area and there were no events even occurring. In fact, finding anyone in clinical practice with eating disorders experience in my area is near impossible. The part that makes my inner jealousy scream out is, “Why do thousands of people show up dressed in pink and don pink ribbons of hope and healing to run a race raising money for breast cancer (they even get an entire month of national awareness) while National Eating Disorders Week softly goes by with little fanfare, no grocery clerk asking if you would like to donate $1 for research, no parades, very few walks or runs, etc…” I whole-heartedly support what the breast cancer community is able to accomplish; I only wish the eating disorder community could break through and keep a similar pace. After all, “EVERYBODY KNOWS SOMEBODY.”
Bottom line, I don’t need a special week to raise awareness and I am not going to wait around until next year for something to happen! Although I’m one person, I try to take action and make effective choices by the way I live my life, and share it with others as well. Also, everything takes time. I’m sure all the breast cancer walks didn’t begin with thousands of balloons either. However, patience is not my virtue
This is why I try to do little things ranging from the daily choices I make to bolder actions such as sharing my discoveries and educating professionals and the public alike. For example, I love participating in “Operation Beautiful,” where you leave positive notes in random places. If I see a commercial or ad that is using women as a object to sell their product, I will refuse to shop/buy from that company. I do leather-craft and 20% of anything we make is sent towards eating disorder scholarship and funding. These may seem like small contributions, but if everyone started to take action daily, or even weekly, things will become more progressive. In my book, every week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!
I once started something called the “blogging pants,” which were being sent around the US and Canada. It was mimicked off the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. No one knew what size they were, and when you received them, the person added a positive quote and sent them forward. Sadly, they have gone missing, so keep your eye out as they were going to make their way to NEDA in honor of their “Know Your Genes” campaign. Regardless, the pants traveled and met many wonderful people along their journey. My point in sharing all of this is that we can all do something and if we don’t I ask, “Who will?”
NEDA’s website has a ton of ideas for getting involved with eating disorders awareness! You can take a training to give talks and become a recovery speaker, be a media watchdog, organize events, etc. Even if you don’t have a group to develop things with, there are many things you can do, and you might even be surprised at what comes of it. Eating disorders should no longer be stuffed under the rug; we need to scream out loud and clear because we know these disorders thrive off of silence.
- Activity & Event Planning Timeline: Looking for ideas that fit your audience type and time frame? Check out this list to find a fun option.
- Host a Screening Event: NEDA now offers an easy-to-use online screening tool, in partnership with Screening for Mental Health Inc., perfect for holding an eaing disorder screening event in schools, universities, hospitals, community centers, or anywhere internet access is available! Use the Planning Guide for Eating Disorder Screening Events to get started!
- Just One Thing: Everyone can do something that fits their time, resources, and interests…just pick one from the Just One Thing list!
- Mix & Match: 10 easy, fun ways to make a difference
- Operation Beautiful: Join the campaign to end fat-talk…one post-it note at a time.
- Event Planning Guide: Want to host an event but not sure where to start? This guide walks you through the main components and is great for group planning.
- Flyers, Bookmarks & Handouts: Ready to print resources, includes signs and flyers to post around schools with information on eating disorder awareness.
- Host a volunteer NEDAwareness Week Speaker at your school or university. Each year volunteers across the country offer to speak to your class or community group about eating disorders. Find a NEDAwareness Week Speaker today!
- Legislative Advocacy: Check out the Take Action Now section to see how you can help build eating disorder awareness support in congress.
- Be a Media Watchdog: Consumer voices matter! Click on Take Action Now for practical tips and tools for becoming a media activist.
- NEDAwareness Week Supporter Certificate: A certificate of appreciation and recognition for the volunteers who help make your event a success.
- Request a Free NEDA CD-Rom Toolkit: Have access to your very own disc, consisting of NEDA’s Parent, Educator, and Coach & Athletic Trainer Toolkits. Simply fill out this online request form.
The important thing to remember is that even if you just get the information now, it doesn’t expire. Keep reaching out and raising awareness. If you didn’t have time to organize something last week, get some materials together and a well thought out plan and maybe next month will be your time to put on an event to give voice to the silent epidemic year-round! You do not have to save your ideas until next year!
Plus, I encourage you to think about daily choices and how small little acts can also lead to more awareness, even if its through a note, a few words, or one small action. Granted it takes courage and a bit of boldness, but it also offers a great opportunity to continue building that self-confidence, which is a strike against the eating disorder.
Thank you for letting me have my soapbox and wanting to change everything with the snap of my fingers. Remember that each day is a new day, and you don’t need a special week to bring awareness or education to others. Small steps and actions is what compiles into the thousands of balloons being released at a NEDA fundraiser and walks across the nation. Maybe we’ll even get our own month!
~Faith (Guest Blogger)