Posted on March 01, 2014 by Dr. Deah
Today is the last day of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2014 and it has been an eye opening week for me. I don’t have any hard stats to back this up, but it feels as if this year’s week had a broader reach and more involvement than in recent years. Sometimes I get cynical about these awareness weeks. After all isn’t everyday an opportunity for awareness? Why limit it to one week? But I also see how dedicating time to be mindful of something is a good thing. It’s easy to become complacent about ED, especially when you are working in the field. I don’t think I am the only one who gets so involved in my current case-load and all of the demands of life that there is little time to keep up with the latest research and trends that are continually taking place. So when a week comes around that calls for me to focus on one thing, it is an invitation to upgrade my skills, increase my understanding, and learn.
One of the areas that got my attention this week were the voices in the ED community that wanted it to be understood that media pressure and societal standards of beauty do NOT cause an eating disorder. There were videos, articles, blog posts all over the web sending out that message loud and sometimes clear…(sometimes it was confusing to me I have to admit). This particular video grabbed my attention and really caused me to think. But then the same website posted this article which seemed a bit contradictory. The combination of the two, however, caused me to re-examine my beliefs and understandings about the topic; and what I came away with was this:
True: You should not confuse correlation with causation.
True: Media images do not create a mental illness.
True: Media images can exacerbate a predisposition to a mental illness.
True: We still need to work together to stop the over objectification of bodies in the media.
True: We need to help each person define their own standards of self-worth that are not attached to their weight.
True: We need to continue to teach each other about ways to heal and prevent eating disorders.
So let’s keep the conversation going even though the week is over and we will all go back to our busy lives and focus on the next important cause…except for those suffering with an eating disorder. For them every week is eating disorders awareness week. And we all have a great deal of work left to do.
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