February 21-27 is National Eating Disorder Awareness, or NEDA, week. During the week, NEDA strives to remind everyone that eating disorders are a very serious issue. In the US alone, roughly 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or an eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) at least once in their lifetime.
As a member of Tri Delta, NEDA week is close to my heart. Our national program, BodyImage3D, recognizes that "90 percent of girls ages 15 to 17, want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance, with body weight ranking the highest." Society says that women are too fat or too thin. Magazines tell us to eat this and not that. But NEDA is reminding everyone that they are not alone.
As my sorority's Risk Management Chair/Body Image Coordinator, Madison, prepared for NEDA week, she mentioned that:
It’s important to hold company with yourself so sacred that even when you're alone, you are whole. Our relationship with ourselves — learning to love yourself — is probably the most important relationship we will ever have. I will be the first to admit how difficult it is to work on yourself. But it sure does feel good to accept everything that you are. My personality can often be a contradiction. I love thunderstorms as I stare at the rain droplets that hit my windowpane, but I hate thunderstorms because the sky explodes when nature can’t handle the pressure, and boy, can I relate. I am an introvert but seem extroverted at times due to my strong interest in people and surroundings. My heart frequently swings back and forth between the need for routine and the urge to run away. I wear my heart on my sleeve, yet guard my heart with terrifying trust issues. This is who I am and that’s okay.
Ernest Hemingway says, “We are all broken, that’s how the light gets in”. So, fear not, world — you are just as you should be.
This year's theme is "3 Minutes Can Save A Life." It takes three minutes to take a screening survey to make sure that you are okay. But it takes even less to share the survey and start an important dialogue about eating disorders and mental health. As NEDA's website says, "Sharing facts and stats online, hosting an event, or participating in our social media events are great ways to be a part of this year’s initiative. By increasing awareness and access to resources, we can encourage early detection and intervention, which can improve the likelihood of full recovery for millions." The best thing we can do is raise awareness for eating disorders and be supportive of those who are suffering.
This NEDA week, I hope you remember that you are just as you should be. If you feel discouraged, please take the screening test or reach out to someone you trust. And don't forget, you are not alone in this.
National Eating Disorders Helpline: 800.931.2237