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"Dear KJ" is a monthly advice column by Dr. Kjerstin "KJ" Gruys, sociologist, author and body image activist. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology with a focus on the politics of appearance and is the author of Mirror Mirror Off the Wall: How I Learned to Love My Body By Not Looking at It for a Year (Avery Press, 2012).

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When I was younger, I knew I was different from other people. I never understood why, and this led me to try to amend myself to “fit in.” I mirrored appropriate reactions and behaviors and ended up trying to “look like” everybody else. I changed my appearance in ways involving weight and style, becoming obsessed to a level where I made myself sick, counted calories extensively, and exhibited restrictive behaviors. 

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From the famed Empire State Building in the east to Los Angeles International Airport’s stylish, 100-foot, glass pylons in the west, more than 70 iconic landmarks in dozens of cities were lit in the signature blue and green colors of the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to put a spotlight on the seriousness of eating disorders.

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There are a variety of myths surrounding eating disorders—myths that can make people unaware of the seriousness of the disease or even prevent people from reaching out for help.

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Eating disorders in type 1 diabetes (T1DM) are rarely understood or recognized outside the T1DM patient and medical community. In fact, there is still a lack of awareness even inside of the world of T1DM. Despite this reality, girls and women with T1DM are close to 2.5 times more likely to develop eating disorders than those who do not have diabetes. This is a serious women’s health problem in diabetes, and it is associated with severe medical consequences.

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It's 2017 and women continue to live in a world that constantly devalues them and pressures them to meet unrealistic ideals. This International Women’s Day, get inspired by these powerful messages from nine NEDA community members. 

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"What is health when we don't have access to humanity and safety in our own bodies?" -- Ashleigh Shackelford

In the work that I do in the world, I have a lot of opportunities to talk about body image. And I have to tell you, right now it bores me. It’s not that it doesn't matter. In many ways, it matters more than it ever has. Our world desperately needs fully embodied humans. But here’s the problem: working with body image leaves US doing all the work.

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“Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairytale.”

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Sometimes, the hardest cages to break out of are the ones we build for ourselves. Society has created a cage for many adolescents around the world, creating an illusion that these cages aren’t meant to be broken. The bars surrounding their open spaces are created from every single magazine cover, television show, and “ideal” image of what a person should look like.

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If you’ve ever sought treatment for an eating disorder, then it is likely that you’ve also struggled with insurance coverage.

Treatment centers nationwide are filled with tales of patients having their inpatient stays cut short because their insurance deemed them “medically stable,” of families who refinanced their entire lives to treat their loved ones, of women and men who bounce in and out of hospitals because they can never stay long enough to make real progress.

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