National Eating Disorders Association
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I’ve wanted to talk about my body image struggles and my blindness in a correlating way for sometime now. Many people don’t realize that just because I can’t see well, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with what I do see or feel. I don’t blame my blindness for my past eating disorder, but it has played a role in my body challenges. 

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NEDA is excited to share how NEDA Network member, Ophelia's Place, thinks outside the box to raise awareness around eating disorders and body image issues in its community, while at the same time finding a means of sustaining the organization so its important work can continue. We would love to hear how others are building community and sustainability, and hope this post prompts some other great ideas!

 

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Professional wrestling offers a unique combination of athleticism and the art of storytelling. Through the use of larger-than-life characters and sometimes relatable storylines, the audience is met with events they can connect with. For months, professional wrestler Adam Page has offered a storyline of his journey through pressures of looking perfect for a big matchup. His friends make comments that he needs to be “full gear ready” (skinnier and bulkier) for this match.

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My beautiful mother Judy seemed to always defy the odds her whole life. In the face of her struggle with mental illness, more specifically anorexia, depression, and anxiety, I witnessed a very strong woman, though she might not have felt that way.  When I think about my mom, what comes to mind quickly is courage, bravery, resilience, and perseverance! She was, and is, an overcomer! 

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My sister, Bridget, was diagnosed with anorexia when she was in 7th grade; she was only 12 years old. I was a freshman in high school, and at 15, I had limited capacity or empathy for her daily challenges. I have to admit, it took losing her for me to more fully understand the depth of this disease and its impacts.

After twenty-two years of suffering with anorexia and depression, my sister ended her life and her suffering at the age of 34. Our family has chosen to share her story in hopes that fewer suffer and more survive.

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It's May 6th, which means the NEDA Network's first national No Diet Day is finally here! NEDA is excited to collaborate with our Network members on this important initiative to encourage the rejection of diet culture, and to promote the elimination of shame associated with society’s standards of beauty and respect for all body shapes and sizes.

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Monday, May 6th is International No Diet Day, a day to celebrate the beauty and diversity of how bodies show up in the world, affirm every body’s right to live free of shame, stigma, and oppression, and learn the facts about weight loss, dieting, health, and body size. After working in the dominant weight paradigm for seven years as a “health research interventionist,” I started to wonder why we were focusing on weight, when it didn’t seem to be helpful and was starting to feel harmful.

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No Diet Day is May 6, 2019. It is a day for us to celebrate our bodies just exactly as they are without criticism or judgement. It is a day I hope can turn into many days, free to believe we are enough despite our size, despite what we eat. No Diet Day is a day I hope we can put aside our food judgements, a day we can enjoy and savor ANYTHING we choose to eat. As I’ve been told many times, food is food. It sounds like it should be that simple, but is it? I wish I could say yes, but we live in a diet-focused culture that shames us for what we eat. It shames us of our size.

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Diet Culture is dangerous and harms people of all sizes, including by perpetuating eating disorders and making a full recovery almost impossible. But when it comes to identifying Diet Culture in a world that is sadly rife with it, there can be plenty of confusion. If we truly want to prevent eating disorders and create a culture where full recovery is possible, we need to learn to identify Diet Culture and speak out against it. While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, it covers some of the main tenets of Diet Culture, as well as some options for fighting back. 

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