Monday, February 20, 2012

Awareness Conflicts

Apparently it's Eating Disorders Awareness Week? I actually had no idea, only found out when a friend invited me on Facebook (not just me specifically...I think she's one of the organizers and just invited everyone on her friend list). Anyway, there's a whole list of events happening - speakers, movie screenings, etc. What I've noticed is that most of them are not exclusively ED-related, per se, but more of a feminist celebration. It's as if "eating disorders awareness" has become synonymous with "body acceptance" and "girl power."

I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Part of me is really curious about how ED issues will be presented. Part of me knows I'll just get frustrated when the presentations don't line up with my personal experiences. Part of me wants to stay as far away from the whole thing as possible. I think most of my friends know about my ED, although I never discuss it and the whole topic has pretty much been established as Off Limits. So I'm super uncomfortable with the idea of being seen at any of the EDAW events.

And honestly, I have no desire to sit through a motivational speech on body image and female empowerment. I'm all for that stuff, but not in this context. There's already too much of the "anorexics just want to be skinny" mentality out there. Yes, I've spent most of my time entrenched in the ED wanting to be skinny and yes, my body image sucks. But there's so much more to it - like genetics and biology. A peppy girl power speech isn't going to cure my bad body image. And even if it did, that wouldn't cure my eating disorder.

That sounded way more bitter than I intended. To be clear: I think it's incredibly important to promote ED awareness. I also think it's incredibly important to promote positive body image. But I don't necessarily think the issues go hand-in-hand. I think it belittles the severity of the illness to associate it with this idea of female vanity.


  1. "I think it belittles the severity of the illness to associate it with this idea of female vanity."

    Yup, I couldn't agree more. My college's NEDAW events made me so mad that I just couldn't go. That being said, my sister learned a lot about eating disorders and gained some empathy by me by attending NEDAW events and so I don't think they are a complete lost cause. Last Saturday, I went to my first NEDAW event since the one I had attended in college and it was really pretty great. It was just a community of people who cared and had been affected by EDs in some way, walking to show support for those struggling, and I really liked it...I think that it all depends on how much the people PLANNING the event have personally experienced eating disorders. I think that was the issue in college: the girls planning it hadn't actually experienced an ED.

    Anyway, this is becoming a really long comment. I don't have a laptop right now so anytime I can steal D's I go blog crazy!!

    1. Comment away! So sorry about the laptop. You're probably right about the experience thing - I think most girls tend to just see eating disorders as one of those stock feminist issues that we're supposed to care about by nature of being female, like access to birth control and domestic violence awareness and breast cancer research etc. I would like to see NEDAW approached from a more evidence-based, medical standpoint instead of turning it into a Love Your Body-fest.