Eating Disorders are a physical, mental, and emotional illness that affects millions each year. However, it is not commonly talked about due to the shame and stigma that is so commonly attached to such a serious and worthy cause of discussion.
Eating disorders typically begin between 18–21 years old, which is the average of undergraduate college students. Similarly, NEDA estimated that between 10–20% of women and 4–10% of men in college suffer from an eating disorder. This is likely due to the stress and anxiety that typically accompany the transition from high school to a college environment. The new independence, stress, and lifestyle change often evokes certain emotions that lead students to become more likely to develop disordered eating.
To dismantle the stigma surrounding eating disorders as well as decrease the amount of eating disorders on college campuses, it is recognized annually. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, or NEDA week, is a week-long campaign that exists to educate, support, and bring about awareness to eating disorders. The campaign occurs in February every year. The week is meant to be a space of support for those who are currently struggling with an eating disorder, have once struggled, or know someone who has been affected. Their campaign encourages to “see the change, and be the change,” suggesting that everyone should do their part to recognize and support those struggling with an eating disorder or disordered eating.
Silence is very prevalent in the minds of the public surrounding eating disorders. Considering we live in a society that views “skinny as the beauty standard” as represented by the media, many choose to look past those struggling. In reality, all bodies are beautiful, and we must change the beauty standard in society to reduce eating disorders and view all bodies as beautiful.
How to help someone who may be struggling with an eating disorder:
1. Talk to them; offer support
2. Actively listen and support them
3. Ask if they want your active help or just a shoulder to lean on; be willing to be both
4. Check up on them
5. Offer to make them dinner; make it fun with no pressure involved!