National Eating Disorders Association
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In the grocery store checkout line in suburban Orange County, Calif., my mom looked at me and said, “watermelon.”

It was our code word for “stand up straight.” I was a preteen, taller than all my friends, and was constantly slouching. The reminder was so constant my mom decided a code word would make it less embarrassing to hear in public.

Each time I would heed my mom’s advice and stand up straight, I would instinctively look down at my chest, where my breasts were just beginning to take shape. 

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When I first started writing this post, my intention was to highlight how eating disorders affect the Muslim community in ways that differ from people of other faiths (or no faith). However, the more I looked into it and the more I thought about what I’ve been through, I realized that I would be doing you, the reader, a disservice. Instead, I want to delve deeper into the Muslim community (a rare occurrence in this context) and explain how Muslims deal with facets of eating disorders that we don't think that they do. 

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Gloria Lucas is a self-described “chubby warrior, DIY punx educator, and eating disorder survivor” dedicated to increasing the representation within the body positive and eating disorder community. After struggling with her own eating disorder, Gloria felt the impact of cultural differences with the difficulty she felt about speaking out. Now, she hopes to fulfill her mission with Nalgona Positivity Pride, an organization that centers the diverse backgrounds of community members and gives back to her own community. 

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We are shaped by our experiences and our perceptions. Our views of the world are defined by what we see and what we hear and the media has always played a role in that. Throughout history, the media and arguably, our immediate environment, has controlled our self-image, and in the age of technology, we are becoming increasingly aware of the negative impact of what our eyes and ears consume.

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NEDA and the Trevor Project teamed up on a national survey to better understand how LGBTQ+ youth are affected by eating disorders. We found that a majority of those surveyed have been diagnosed with an eating disorder and more than 75% suspect they have an eating disorder. And, of those diagnosed with an eating disorder, 87.5% have considered suicide.

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During my teenage years, I was very confrontational. I was also very angry and embarrassed to be in my body. This anger and shame, encouraged me to yell at and hate the strangers I caught staring at me in public places. 

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Mollee Gray is an actress and dancer most recognized as Giggles in Disney films Teen Beach and Teen Beach 2 and as a finalist on season 6 of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. She currently tours nationwide teaching master classes and dance workshops, and serves as a celebrity ambassador for Breaking the Chains Foundation.

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My journey to diagnosis for anorexia started when I was 20. I’d had enough of feeling the way I did and being controlled by emotion and intrusive thoughts. During this time, we discovered it had started at 10 years old due to issues at school and weight-related family traits. 

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The first time I heard about eating disorders, I was in middle school. Our health class watched a film on the dangers of extreme dieting, and the implications it could have on mental and physical health. I watched intently as the film portrayed the typical narrative of a middle-class Caucasian girl who was on a dangerous path toward starvation. At the time, it was inconceivable to me that I could ever develop an eating disorder. I was just an average sized African-American girl who loved food. 

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In honor of Black History Month, we are applauding some of the incredible members of the Black community who spread positivity one Instagram post at a time. Their messages of hope and love are inspirational to all people, regardless of skin color. 

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