National Eating Disorders Association
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This blog post is sponsored and contributed by Center For Discovery.

Experiencing stigma and discrimination negatively impacts our mental health just as much as our physical health. Weight stigma is no different.

This Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW), taking place Monday, September 28 - Friday, October 2, 2020, we want to End Weight Hate and help the broader eating disorders community understand why weight stigma and weight discrimination should matter to everyone. As well as how it contributes to and exacerbates eating disorders in people of all sizes, especially folks in higher weight bodies. 

Everyone’s eating disorder struggle looks and feels different. The same thing could be said about body hate and weight stigma. For me, weight and body image triggers go hand in hand. For the most part, I’m grateful because my eating disorder didn’t really intrude on my body image or weight. Even though my ED has led me to and through abusive relationships, toxic work environments, self-sabotage and hair pulling -- it hasn’t really had as much impact on my perception of my weight and body image, at least that’s what I thought.

As a photographer, I am a critical component in the image capturing process--I am that tool that stands behind the camera, knowing what to say to make the subject smile a certain way; waiting for the light to hit a mountainside; capturing the oceans in a way that can evoke drama and chaos; and knowing when to push the shutter button to capture that special moment when the bride and groom kiss.

Somewhere on the New Jersey Parkway, my friend’s dad looks in the rearview mirror - looks me in the eyes - and says, “Car’s running a little slow today, eh, Justin?” It’s a middle school summer: I’m a year or two into a five-year affair with braces, I’m learning to skateboard and play guitar, and I’m growing more and more uncomfortable in my body. Here, age eleven or twelve, I’m already deeply insecure about my round cheeks and belly, and an adult is casually shining a spotlight on everything I want to hide.  

It wasn’t hard for me to stop dieting. I was exhausted from the processes – mind, body, and soul. It was harder for me to find a thinking or philosophy that matched my new outlook. 

Back in January I was cleaning out my emails. You know, the hundreds of unread ones that have been there for an eternity? It was time for them to go. Then, in between the “Today Only Sale” and “Free Shipping” headlines, I recognized an email from NEDA. “Hey - I read these!”, I told myself. It was an invite to join NEDA’s 1st In-District Advocacy Day during NEDAwareness Week. This would be my fourth NEDAwareness Week and I would typically recognize that week by spreading education, awareness, body positive messages, and anti-diet culture information through social media.

I knew these words before I ever remember hearing them spoken to me. They were lovingly repeated to me by my mother throughout my childhood and, as an individual adopted during my infancy, they provided a deep sense of security, love and connection to my family and the world.

Last year (2019), the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) continued the legacy of Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW) as part of the recent merger with the Binge Eating Disorders Association (BEDA).

It all started with a letter. Early fall 2019, Ruby Jo Lubarsky, a grandmother, sent a letter to her State Senator, Julie Raque Adams. Ruby Jo shared her frustration about the limited treatment options in Kentucky, how inconsistent insurance coverage is for both inpatient and outpatient services, and in general how uneducated our society is regarding eating disorders. All Ruby Jo was trying to do was find the care her granddaughter desperately needed. But her letter struck a chord.

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