National Eating Disorders Association

The power of social media has grown into a force that can influence society and culture with the swiftness of wildfire.  Messages conveyed through social media sites can build into movements, rapidly creating a positive or negative environment for those engaging with it.  Unfortunately, trends that promote eating disorders have become rampant through social media sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.  With the combination of easy access to technology and the widespread use of these social media sites, a movement that endorses eating disorder behaviors has quickly risen

A few months ago, my 19-year old happy, healthy, anorexia-free son handed me a “thank you” card. Inside, Ben had written that his eating disorder had been “a struggle fought together not against each other”. He wrote that I was “a shining example to the world that love can overcome anything” and that “we would not be here today in such a state of contentment” if it had not been for my “sheer strength of willpower and motherly love”. Finally he thanked me “for being the one that never gave up”.

Well, the floodgates opened and I wept buckets!

The recent developments surrounding the firing of Oakland University women’s basketball coach, Beckie Francis, highlight the immense influence coaches have on their athletes and underscore the importance of eating disorders awareness in the athletic community.

As an adolescent and young adult, tormenting thoughts dominated my mind. This was the late 1960s and 1970s, a time of optimism, girls-can-do-anything feminism, rock ‘n’ roll and flower power. My friends laughed, danced and were carefree. I strove to be like them. But I felt on the periphery. Nobody knew I was suffering an illness yet to be named - Bulimia Nervosa (BN).

If you sometimes feel worse after you've written, you're not alone.  I've been spending time with journals for about 25 years, and there were times when my beloved blank books weren't good places to bring certain emotions.  If I were angry, upset or down, I would write the story of what had caused the emotion and I would iterate how awful the experience of the emotion was.  I would feel worse.  I had stirred up all the negative feelings by inculcating the story and had merely sunk myself in deeper.

The Boy Scouts of America recently announced that it would be banning the participation of scouts and leaders from the 2013 Jamboree based on their Body Mass Index (BMI). NEDA's President and CEO, Lynn Grefe, explains why this is a dangerous idea and urges the Boy Scouts to reconsider this policy in the future in an open letter to their Chief Scouting Officer. If you feel similarly, we encourage you to write to the Boy Scouts and share your concerns.

I was five when a relative explained to me how babies were made. If a couple prayed about it, she said, presto! The proverbial bun in the oven. Throughout the rest of kindergarten, I feared that God would confuse any infant related thought I had with prayer and insert a wee one in me. For years, my “privates” were areas “down there” no one spoke of, and sexuality was an enigmatic, hush-hush topic reserved for moms and dads. Not until taking a college sexuality course in my early twenties did I truly grasp the details of my sexual anatomy and just how valuable such understanding is.

Today, I would recognize the signs: the 11 year old girl in the sixth grade class spending her entire recess and lunch-break running in the schoolyard and doing circuits in the gym; every day, exercising more; the same girl continuing to get top marks with her school work, always punctual, eager to please, but becoming withdrawn; her bubbly personality disappearing; she is not eating her lunch – she offers it to her playmates. She keeps only the apple and eats this very, very slowly, one nibble at a time.

For many Americans, the Fourth of July brings thoughts of fireworks, family togetherness, sumptuous barbecue feasts and fresh lemonade. If you’re one of the millions of individuals who struggle with disordered eating or an eating disorder, however, celebrating may be the furthest thing from your mind.

This year, thanks to the help of NEDA’s dedicated STAR Program Volunteer Advocates, important bills have passed in states across the country!