Monthly Archives: July 2011

Just What the Heck Is Weight Stigma?


Stream this post by pressing ‘Play’ or download the podcast here.

Maybe the term ‘weight stigma’ isn’t in your vocabulary yet, but it needs to be. Even if it isn’t, I anticipate that the concept is not f0reign to anyone if you think hard enough about it. In fact, I’m sure that basically everyone, at some point in their lives, has been engaged in it.

Truthfully, it’s a hard set of shackles to break free of. It’s a form of prejudice that most people probably don’t realize they are engaging in, because the stereotypes about people who aren’t thin are usually accepted as truths and are not questioned. Well, I invite you to join me to start questioning them, along with the Binge Eating Disorder Association. As part of their National Weight Stigma Awareness Week (the last week in September), they’re encouraging writers to blog en masse on the subject in what is apparently known as a blog carnival. So long as it doesn’t involve clowns, I’m in. Continue reading

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Filed under Essay, Podcast, Uncategorized

We Still Have a Lot of Work To Do

WordPress does this really cool thing where it shows you how people stumbled upon your blog, which is admittedly kind of fun. It shows how many hits came from whatever website (from Facebook to Twitter to other blogs) as well as what search engine terms might have brought someone here.

Recently, a search engine phrase brought someone to my tiny corner of the internet that left me quite surprised and alarmed. The search was “are eating disorders real.” What this says to me, friends, is that we still have a lot of work to do.

If there is someone out there who is so unexposed to the reality of these life-threatening illnesses that they would question whether or not they even exist, then that tells me we need to do more to make that reality known.

The surest and quickest way to do that in my eyes is working with the Eating Disorders Coalition to help pass the FREED Act (The Federal Response to the Elimination of Eating Disorders), which I mentioned in a previous post. Out of any other health conditions, no one is asking questions like:

Is diabetes real?

Is schizophrenia real?

Is autism real?

Is alcoholism real?

Of course they aren’t. Though plenty of people may lack a deep or legitimate understanding of a given health condition, there are few which plague so many people in our society where someone wouldn’t readily be able to say “Sure, that’s a real thing.”

So why the FREED Act? FREED will help ensure the federal recognition of eating disorders as the public healthy priority that they need to be. In 2005:

Roughly 10 million people suffered from eating disorders, and about $12 million was spent on eating disorder research.

In that same year, 4.5 million people (less than half than those effected by ED) suffered from Alzheimer’s, and about $647 million was spent on Alzheimer’s research. (Source)

I’m not usually one to throw out a ton of statistics, but those numbers are appalling. FREED seeks to close that disparity and finally spend more than $1.25 per person for research. Until we have better numbers through comprehensive research to reflect how widespread and severe eating disorders are, we will have a harder time getting people (and insurance companies) to take them seriously.

So, what can you, or anyone, do about this? Come to Capitol Hill and lobby with the EDC. I started going in 2007, and I’ve gone twice a year ever since. It’s easily one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done, and it’s an opportunity to make a difference for literally millions of people. The next Lobby Day is October 4th, 2011. If you’ve been effected by an eating disorder in some way,whether personally or someone you care about, then you’re already fully qualified to participate!

We can achieve the goal of eliminating eating disorders. But we need more voices to come and witness to Congress that this is the right and necessary thing to do. I’ll be writing more about my personal experiences lobbying soon. In the meantime, I hope you’ll consider coming to Washington, DC to help FREED become a reality.

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Book Review: Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives

I have just finished reading Aimee Lui’s newest scholastic offering (which I will refer to as Restoring…). If you don’t have time to sit here and read the whole review, I’ll save your time and start off by simply saying: buy this book. All proceeds benefit the Academy for Eating Disorders, so if you can afford it, buy a new copy!

Coming in at less than 200 pages, its length may belie the hours of effort and years of compiling that were required to produce this work. After the warm reception of Lui’s first ED book, Gaining (which I haven’t read yet, but intend to now), she found herself in a unique position of receiving letters from readers from all walks of life. Readers were expressing gratitude for Gaining, sharing their own struggles and triumphs with eating disorders. Those letters became the basis for Restoring… and, combined, have become a book which is greater than the sum of its parts.  Continue reading

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