National Eating Disorders Association

It’s no secret that disabled people are underrepresented or misrepresented in mainstream media. Just last year, Variety reported that 95% of disabled characters in the nation’s top 10 television shows are portrayed by able-bodied actors. 

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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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Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.

Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.

Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.

Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.

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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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The National Eating Disorders Association, in association with feminist activist and editor of Everyday Feminism, Melissa Fabello, is calling for stories that focus on underrepresented experiences and communities in the eating disorder field through The Marginalized Voices Project. We are looking especially for voices from marginalized communities and narratives that challenge eating disorder myths.

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Pick up any eating disorder memoir at your local bookstore, and you are more than likely to find some iteration of this narrative arc.

Well-to-do, young white woman develops an eating disorder, spirals into near-oblivion, seeks treatment for her eating disorder (which usually results in her being admitted into a residential facility), experiences a myriad of successes and failures, and eventually commits to finding her Self again. Well-to-do, young white woman walks out of treatment with a new sense of hope on the road to recovery.

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