Tag Archives: weight stigma

Eating Disorders Coalition Spring Lobby Day 2012!

Do you know what the FREED Act is? It’s the Federal Response to the Elimination of Eating Disorders, and it’s a bill that we need YOUR help to pass.

For over a decade, the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) has been active on Capitol Hill working with the federal government to help make eating disorders a federal health priority. With the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder, we need a bill like the FREED Act to help those who suffer from eating disorders get the help they need and deserve.

I’ve been volunteering with the EDC for 5 years now, and am currently a Junior Board member. Sometimes people ask me if I really think lobbying is worth it because of how complicated and partisan politics can be. I’ll admit, it can be discouraging. But those in office really do pay attention and listen to people who take time out of their lives to come and discuss issues with them. There’s so much misinformation out there about eating disorders that we need people who have had real-world experience with them to come and educate lawmakers. Putting a face and a name to a real story goes a lot farther than any statistics, no matter how shocking or upsetting they might be.

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The Unlikely Connection Between Punk Rock, Sobriety, and Eating Disorders

Currently Reading: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Suzuki Roshi
Currently Listening: Minor Threat’s Complete Discography

Along with people being surprised that I used to have an eating disorder (“Really? You?”), I also get surprised reactions when I tell people I don’t drink.

“Really? Never?”

Nope. When I was 15, some of my friends started experimenting with drugs and sneaking downtown to parties to drink with older friends. I didn’t share their intrinsic interest in trying these things, but eventually went along and participated a few times because I was starting to feel left out. My lack of interest in substance use often translated into not being invited to hang out, because people knew I didn’t want to be around it.

After a few times giving it a shot, I decided I really had no desire to ever partake in any of it. I didn’t like not feeling like myself, and I didn’t like the way people acted when they were intoxicated. For a little while, this made me feel like an outcast. I think some of my friends felt judged by my decision, which wasn’t intentional but was sort of unavoidable.

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Review: Miss Representation

I finally got to see Miss Representation last night, courtesy of a local event for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Released in late 2011, it’s a film exploring the role of women in our society and what we can do to change the disparities that exist.

It’s easy to hear about such a film and say, “But so much progress has been made!” While this is true, and yes, progress continue to be made, it’s slowed down more than you think. I’m not always one to tout statistics, but some of the figures they’ve researched are quite startling. For example:

  • The average teenager consumes roughly 10 hours, 45 minutes of media per day, between television, movies, the internet, and music, the majority of which is TV watching.
  • Of that media consumed, women own less than 6% of TV stations and roughly 6% of radio stations. The board members of the biggest media companies (such as Viacom, Time Warner, etc) systematically outnumber women by more than 2-1, so most of the media being produced and approved is from rich men.
  • Women make up 51% of our population at present, but are only 17% of Congress (even I was surprised by how low that number is).

Mad yet? You should be.

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Matt Ryd Testimony

Just a quick post to share this incredibly moving and touching video, which happens to be from another guy named Matt (but he’s apparently a way better singer than me!)

Please watch, share, repost, and if you dig his music (which is accompanying the video), you can purchase here and all proceeds are going to the National Eating Disorders Association between now and March 4th.

[August 2013 Update]I’m very sad to write that I have learned of Matt Ryd’s death. Please read and celebrate his life with me:


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Eyes Open, Mouth Closed

Way back in 2004, I made a big decision. I got out of class one night and drove from the city back to my parents’ house with the intention of telling them I had an eating disorder. It was rather spontaneous, although it had been in the back of my mind for months. Having had inconsistent luck with friends when seeking support, I wanted to try and avoid those same pitfalls when speaking with my family.

I had found an article on a website that seemed perfect – it was something I wished I could make everyone read before they tried to talk about eating disorders. I printed it out and stuck it in my backpack, where it stayed for weeks, just in case I needed it. When I finally got home, I handed the print-out to my mother and asked her to read it and to not say anything until she had.

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Reasons For Recovery Blog Series – Part 4

I’m collaborating with some other writers in a blog series for the entire month of February. The theme is simple enough: reasons to recover. Special shout-out to Anne-Sophie over at Fighting Anorexia for starting the conversation that turned into this little project and for doing most of the organizing.

The next post in this series comes from Tracey Weldon, a UK-based blogger. It looks like we’ve picked up a theme: the deadly seriousness of eating disorders, and the potential for hope and happiness through recovery. Tracey writes:

It took me a really long time to accept that I had a problem – that I had eating disorders.  Partly because that kinda goes with having a voice in your head telling you that the destructive behaviours are what is best.  But mostly because for the bulk of the time I was sick I didnt ‘look’ like I had an eating disorder.  I was an appropriate weight for my height and later – overweight.  And because I didnt look sick I convinced myself I wasn’t.  But some things cannot be hidden and living in torment can only be contained for so long.  What I want you to know, whoever you are, however you eating disorder manifests is that eating disorders dont discriminate, and they often dont lead you to an emaciated frame.

…In the years I suffered from eating disorders before I chose to fight to recover I lost a lot to them.  They cost me my teenage years, my dignity and friendships.  They made a liar of me, a thief of me and landed me in thousands of pounds of debt.  The most devastating thing I lost in my eating disorders – was my self.  And I’m sure that reads very cliché, corny even, but it’s true.  See, you don’t get to have a life and an eating disorder.  Maybe you’re reading this reassuring yourself that this doesn’t apply to you and that you have both.  You really don’t.  Eating disorders mean dying and death – and even if that death isn’t a heart stopping one, it is still devastating.

You can read the full post here.

One of the hardest things when you first start seeking recovery is getting an objective view on where you are and what you need. When I was sick, I certainly didn’t think I was “sick enough” for almost any level of treatment, and that same mindset has been consistent with pretty much every person or friend I’ve known who has struggled, too. But since when is the patient the best person to be making those kinds of judgement calls? Not to mention, the effects of malnutrition on the body and brain are disruptive to emotional management and decision making processes. Therefore, a key step to recovery is not just getting help but appropriate and adequate help.

For some, it becomes a matter of pride. “I should be able to do this on my own!”, we declare. If it were that easy, though, I bet a lot of us would have. As it stands, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health illness. The moment we start using words like “should” we are creating more barriers to do what is necessary.

No matter what we think we “should” be capable of, when we learn that we need additional help, that should never be a a source of shame. Admitting you have a problem and seeking help takes courage, and so I find it strengthening and empowering to acknowledge our own limitations.

Thanks for reading, and make sure to give Tracey some love on her page!

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NEDA 2012 Winter Lobby Day – Richmond, VA 1/18/12

Did you know that, at present, there are no procedures implemented on the state or federal level to screen for eating disorders among adolescents?

The most recent data provided by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) shows that in American high schools, 30% of girls and 16% of boys suffer from disordered eating, which includes bingeing, vomiting, fasting, abuse of laxatives and diet pills, and compulsive exercise.

It gets worse.

Females between the ages of 15-24 suffering from anorexia have a mortality rate twelve times higher than that of their peers, a statistic that translates into anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Unfortunately, even though eating disorders are preventable and effective treatment exists, they are on the rise.

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2011 Year in Review

WordPress does this nifty thing where it sends you your summary stats. Total visitors, most commented posts, stuff like that. I thought I’d do a quick post of some of my favorite posts from 2011, in case you’re new here and missed them.

I went live in May 2011 and made about 30 posts within the year. Here are some of my favorites. Each title links to its respective post:

May 20th, 2011: Hey, Skinny!

This post is probably the reason I started …Until Eating Disorders Are No More. I wrote this before the blog existed after the odd exchange I had with a work acquaintance. Not knowing what to do with what I wrote, I decided to start a blog. This post was also my busiest day traffic-wise, so thanks to everyone who thought it was worth reading!

June 2nd, 2011: Why Eating Disorder Discussions Must Be Gender-Inclusive

The more writing and networking I did, the more I found people had an interest in my experiences due to my being a guy. I had never given it a whole lot of thought and had taken the gender disparities in stride. The more I’ve thought about it, though, the more frustrating it is, and the more I want to talk about it. This was the starting point for that conversation.

July 26th, 2011: Just What the Heck is Weight Stigma?

It’s time we all add ‘weightism’ and ‘weight stigma’ to our vocabularies, and stop engaging in weight discrimination. Friends who read this post said they’d never heard a term for it, but weightism is something we hear and see every day. Being thin does not equal being healthy. In fact, I know a lot of thin people who don’t take care of themselves, but they aren’t subjected to the same level of scrutiny as people with larger bodies.

August 3rd, 2011: The State of Male Eating Disorders

In August, I participated in an interview for the Huffington Post for a story on eating disorders in men. The article was handled with care, but then the title originally contained a dreadful word: manorexia. I emailed the reporter, and in response to my concerns her editors changed the title (one reason the internet is so handy for this type of thing!)

October 24th, 2011: Event Review: Beyond Barbie – Caught in a Fun House Mirror

Local artist Susan Singer did a series of paintings on natural beauty, doing a whole lot nude portraits of women of all shapes and sizes. There were six weeks of shows with a different theme each week, and my friend Karen Morris was featured in October to discuss body image and eating disorders. An expanded review was posted on RVANews.

November 15th, 2011: Interview: Men with Anorexia, WRIC Channel 8

I had the honor of lending my story to a news piece for the local CBS News with reporter Nate Eaton. I thought it an interesting change of pace for a male reporter to be interviewing a male survivor. Nate did a great job tackling the subject and I thank him for it. Not much else I can say about it, just go watch it!

Looking over that list, 2011 was quite a year! I hope you’ll join me in 2012 and beyond to continue writing, reading, and advocating for these issues to be taken seriously, until eating disorders are no more.

Happy New Year!


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The Person Contained Within the Body

Here we are, Round 2 of the Weight Stigma Blog-A-Thon. They’re calling it a carnival, but until I can get some cotton candy, I’m not buying it. You may recall, the Binge Eating Disorder Association is putting on Weight Stigma Awareness Week, with a monthly topic for writers, bloggers, etc to talk about to get the discussion going. It’s being hosted by my friend Kendra over at Voice in Recovery, where you can see all the other write-ups.

Anyway, Augusts’ topic is: How Doe Weight Stigma Increase Body Dissatisfaction? At first I a little daunted by the topic – I think it’s a difficult one to discuss in a broad sense, because it will be different for everyone. I know I’ve experienced it in my own life, especially in my adolescence. Because of my experiences growing up, I’m particularly concerned about the anti-obesity initiatives targeting children, the effects it will have on the rising generation, and the way they understand and view their bodies and health.

I try to avoid using words like “overweight.” I think they get thrown around a lot but that there’s no clear definition, especially outside of a medical context. In the absence of a clear, agreed-upon definition, combined with the negative connotations that society has attached to the term, I think it’s misused as a catch-all to evaluate and label people based strictly on appearance. Common consensus deems that that kind of thing is inappropriate for other kinds of surface judgments, such as racism, sexism, homophobia, etc, but for some reason weight discrimination is treated differently.

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If You ‘Feel Fat’, Does That Make ‘Fat’ An Emotion?

The following is adapted from a work-on-progress.

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘Fat is not a feeling? ‘I can’t take credit for that phrase, but I’m really fond of it. Of course, you can feel tired or hungry, but I want to focus on the word feel as it relates to emotion. Granted, you can have the sense of being anything – compliments can make you feel attractive, insults can make you feel ugly. But just because someone said you were attractive doesn’t make you look any different than you did before someone commented on your appearance.

And, yes, certain things might make you “feel fat.” The reason I don’t buy into it, though, is that I’ve never heard anyone say “I feel thin today.” I’d like to try and distinguish between what I’ll call a ‘sense of being’ and an actual ‘feeling’ is, though. I think we can all agree that ‘fat’ isn’t an emotion. I think it’s also safe to say that most things we’d consider emotions – anger, love, hate, joy – can also be rooted in feelings. Continue reading

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