National Eating Disorders Association
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Activism

When my friend, Lily Stav Gildor, and I realized that we weren’t aware of any podcasts that specifically focus on discussing mental illness with people our age (18-35), we decided to take matters into our own hands.

Last month, we launched our podcast called  Mental Health Hangouts, where we interview millennials about their experiences with mental health treatment, mental illness, addiction, etc. 

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I often want to delete all of my social media profiles. In fact, I deleted my Snapchat months ago and it has been great. But I keep my Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter alive, and I do this because social media holds a lot of powers. One of them is giving everyone a voice. 

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Last month, the Hemendinger family of Amity Harbor, NY successfully reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Together, as a family, they completed the 10 day journey of the highest free standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet. The 91 mile round trip journey consisted of daily hiking through five different climate zones of Kilimanjaro including a Rain Forest, an Alpine Desert, and the Arctic Summit. 

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People often assume that dance training is at odds with the ideals of body positivity. I can understand why – at the professional level, dance has a longstanding reputation of requiring a very narrow ideal body shape and size and dance class can often focus on physical shortcomings. That said, I am a dance teacher, and I believe in the power of body positivity. I believe in its power to inspire young people and to train better, stronger dancers.

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Twice a year, advocates come together in Washington, D.C. to influence federal policy, push for change, and educate representatives of Congress about those affected by eating disorders. NEDA has served as a collaborative partner with the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) on these efforts throughout 2017. 

On October 5th, I along with many other advocates shared our own personal journeys and the impact eating disorders have had on our lives. On that day, we represented the voices of the 30 million Americans who suffer from an eating disorder.

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Eating disorders kill. Eating disorders are a public health crisis. Considered the deadliest mental illness, an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

Content note: Potentially triggering language and descriptions of eating disordered behaviors

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Body positivity is an important part of who I am, since I’ve struggled with body image for most of my life. I came to learn about the body positive movement within the last couple of years, and now, instead of picking apart what I see in the mirror, I am thankful for my body because of all the things it can do. 

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On August 24, 2017, the State of Illinois enacted Public Act 100-0305, which amends the Illinois Insurance Code to afford greater protection to individuals suffering from eating disorders by expanding the mandatory health insurance coverage available to treat such conditions. The law was introduced as HB 1332 by State Representative Laura Fine (Glenview); and after passage in the Illinois House of Representatives, was sponsored in the Illinois Senate by Senator Jule Morrison (Deerfield).  

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Fitness culture is generally pretty exclusive: it thrives on fatphobia and the appearance ideal. There is generally an apprehension of participating in gym and fitness culture if you don’t look a certain way, but working out should give you a boost of confidence and allow you to appreciate your body for all it can do. Bevin Branlandingham has developed Fat Kid Dance Party: For All Sizes to Heal from Body Oppression, which is hosted by EVERYBODY gym in Los Angeles. Bevin’s class and this gym welcome people of all sizes, races, genders, and physical abilities.

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Kelvin Davis is a body-positive men’s fashion blogger. He is a model for Chubbies, an admin for Eff Your Beauty Standards, a dancer, a modern-day gentleman, a style icon, and a celebrator of body positivity on Instagram. Kelvin is now an author as well, with Notoriously Dapper: How to Be a Modern Gentleman with Manners, Style, and Body Confidence coming out on October 1st. 

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