National Eating Disorders Association
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I was born 3 months pre-mature, weighing 1 pound, 9 ounces. As a result of being born pre-maturely, I have mild cerebral palsy that affects how I walk. Growing up with a physical disability was very difficult; every day at school I was verbally and physically bullied. This bullying took a severe toll on my mental health and affected how I felt about myself. I was very depressed, I didn’t like myself, and I believed that no one else liked me. I didn’t really have any friends, just “acquaintances”; I felt very lonely and I often dreaded going to school. 

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I was born with cerebral palsy. It has affected my self-esteem because I do things more slowly than my peers. I was teased because of the way I walked when I was younger. However, at the time, bad body image wasn’t on my radar.

My birth mom could not accept me as I was and she expected me to develop at the same rate as my biological siblings and other children my age. She pushed me hard to walk and speak like others.

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Identity & Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have historically been associated with straight, young, white females, but in reality, they affect people from all demographics and are not caused by any single factor. They arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. 

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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“Monthly Matters with Melody” is a monthly advice column by Dr. Melody Moore, a clinical psychologist, yoga instructor and the founder of the Embody Love Movement Foundation. Her foundation is a non-profit whose mission is to empower girls and women to celebrate their inner beauty, commit to kindness and contribute to meaningful change in the world. Dr. Moore is a social entrepreneur who trains facilitators on how to teach programs to prevent negative body image and remind girls and women of their inherent worth.

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People often judge with their eyes before listening with their ears. This is why I believe invisible disabilities can be overlooked, or discounted. If you cannot see a problem, it is most likely not there, right? If someone has the perfect body, no way can they suffer from self-esteem issues. If someone isn’t incapacitated or screaming, there’s no way they could be in pain.

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The first thing you notice about up-and-coming filmmaker Tchaiko Omawale is her vibrant blue hair; the second thing you notice, much like her hair, is the infectious yet subtle smile spread across her face. When she speaks, she pulls you, as if she is an old childhood friend who helped you navigate your first awkward crush.

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In thinking about trying to alleviate some of the tremendous suffering that comes with struggling with an eating disorder, there is nothing more urgent than earlier recognition and identification of those at risk. Early intervention is essential to a better prognosis for those affected—and nowhere is this more important than those struggling with eating disorders who are further marginalized by virtue of not “looking” like the typical someone with an eating disorder. Which brings us, obviously, to papyrus.

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The Marginalized Voices Project is a collaboration between the National Eating Disorders Association and feminist activist and editor of Everyday Feminism, Melissa A. Fabello. Together, we put out a call for stories that focus on underrepresented experiences and communities in order to create a platform for people to share what it means to suffer (and recover) from an eating disorder.

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 “For all the information and raised awareness, the stereotype won’t die—eating disorders are a white-woman problem,” writes Michelle Konstantinovsky in her recent article entitled, “Eating Disorders Do Not Discriminate: Puncturing the dangerous myth that only white women get eating disorders.” The article, which recently appeared on Slate, hits the nail squarely on the head – anyone can be at risk for an eating disorder.

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