NEDA Week and Breaking Eating Disorder Stereotypes

Sarah Jeffries, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, started by the National Eating Disorder Association to bring awareness to different types of eating disorders. Eating disorders aren’t commonly talked about in schools, and are only brought up briefly in health classes. An eating disorder, by definition, is a mental illness characterized by abnormal eating habits. Some commonly known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, but there are much more than just these three, and people can have more than one of these disorders at a time as well.

` Because eating disorders are considered mental illnesses,they can happen to anyone. Eating disorders don’t discriminate based on gender or age or any other factor, just like illnesses like depression or anxiety. When people think of eating disorders, the common victim that we think about is generally teenage girls, because of the link between body image and eating disorders. Although negative body image can make you more susceptible, you don’t necessarily have to have a negative body image to get an eating disorder. Negative body image also isn’t just limited to young girls as well. Anyone can have a negative view of their body.

Eating disorders can be hard to diagnose because signs and symptoms change from person to person. Symptoms that do occur, though, can be categorized into emotional/behavioral symptoms and physical symptoms. Some physical symptoms can be extreme weight gain or weight loss, stomach aches or other stomach problems, difficulty focusing, lightheadedness, getting cold easily, dental problems, and getting sick really easily. Some emotional and behavioral symptoms can be heavy focus on weight, food, calories, and anything else related to food, eating a lot more or a lot less than usual, becoming more private, not wanting to eat with other people, and distorted body image (can also be called body dysmorphia – a mental disorder where you can’t stop thinking about small or not even noticeable flaws in your appearance). This could be considered a more extreme version of negative body image.   

Body image is the way you view your body. Body image is sorted into two categories: seeing your body as something purely used for function, and seeing your body for the way it looks, and the way other people might perceive it. Striving for the first type of body image can be hard; we live in a world filled with social media, models, tv shows and movies that create unrealistic images of what our bodies should look like, but the truth is, there is no one way our body should look. People are genetically programmed to look different; you’ve heard this time and time again before, but no one person is the same. Be proud of who you are and what you look like and own it – there is no need to be ashamed of the way you are, and definitely no reason to change because of the way someone else thinks you should look.

Trying to think of your body as what it can do instead of how it can look can be a hard mindset to get into. Instead of thinking about things like getting a six pack, having a thigh gap, or having skinnier arms, trying to think about things like how your body allows you to wake up in the morning and walk around, or ride your bike and talk to people, and just something as general as being able to see the world itself can be a good way to shift your mindset. So next time you look in the mirror and start to tear yourself down, think about all the things that your body allows you to do. Go enjoy being a person, being able to walk, run, listen to music, hang out with friends, go shopping, do something that you love. Because at the end of the day, you only live once. Don’t spend it tearing yourself apart.

For more information on eating disorders, visit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email