as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to a close…

by Danielle Cantor, JWI Design & Communications Manager

Did you know this was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? The media has been rich with articles on and close to the topic, and I thought I’d share a few here. founder Sunny Sea Gold talks about how she recovered from binge eating disorder and bad body image for Let’s Talk About It: A Project of NOW Foundation’s Love Your Body Campaign. (Check out more Let’s Talk About It videos from models, actors, authors and other women.)

“Plus-size” (even though she’s not) model Crystal Renn, one of the women featured in the NOW campaign, has become a vocal and visible opponent of fashion industry trends that can drive models (and the girls who look up to them) to unhealthy eating behaviors and dangerously low weight. She and model Sara Ziff talk here with New York magazine. Ziff is also a filmmaker: She recently made a documentary, “Picture Me,” about sketchy, unsavory and downright abusive practices that affect girls in the fashion industry. You can see clips of the film on New York magazine’s video page.

This “Since You Asked” column from early February details a woman’s downward slide into unhealthy eating habits. I found her public cry for help – “Why am I not smarter than my eating disorder?” – to be honest, well-expressed, and sadly relatable.

“Stars are increasingly being pressured to show off their appetites while staying skinny. It’s time for it to stop,” writes Salon‘s Mary Elizabeth Williams. Both Salon and The New York Times wrote about thin actresses and the DIPE – Documented Instance of Public Eating (a phrase coined by film publicist Jeremy Walker). Personally, I’m not sure which is worse for a role model: Perpetuating the myth that you can eat a standard American diet and be a size zero, so the girls who look up to you wonder what’s wrong with them; or being honest about the sacrifice so girls adopt your dysfunctional eating habits to look like you. I guess to admit you’re hungry most of the time is like being caught without your rouge and falsies in the 1950s.

I also want to recommend Liz Jones’ blog at the UK’s MailOnline. This fashion writer isn’t shy about calling the industry out on its need for an attitude adjustment. This piece in particular – “Skeletal models and super-sized hypocrisy” – really seized me: The images are shocking and haunting even without context. but when you consider that these skeletal women – many of them teenage girls – are being held up as icons of feminine beauty… it just boggles the mind.

And perhaps the most infuriating find of the week: This piece on about Kenneth Tong, a cast member from Big Brother UK in 2009 and self-described “playboy” from Hong Kong. Tong has been Tweeting a campaign to promote “managed anorexia,” which will “help girls all over the world know that to be skinny is to be perfect & to be fat is unacceptable.” I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in karma, and I think it’s only a matter of time before someone takes a bite outta Kenneth Tong.

So as we bring National Eating Disorders Awareness Week to a close today, take a moment to make a woman feel beautiful – just the way she, because of who she is.


3 responses to “as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week comes to a close…

  1. Kudos on participating in eating disorder awareness week by posting these articles. But as an organization that is impressive in its push to break the silence in the JEWISH community, I’m surprised by the lack of articles related to eating disorders in the JEWISH community–an issue that is just beginning to come to the surface and is dangerously under-treated (much like domestic violence). Search the Renfrew Center’s jewish track, the Orthodox Union’s task force, educational programming, and documentary “hungry to be heard”, Sheppard Pratt’s conference last January, Relief Resources, Rabbi Goldwasser….Jewish organizations should be breaking the stigma and the myth that “it doesn’t happen to nice Jewish girls” (sound familiar??)
    Just my thoughts….

  2. Thanks, Rachel. You are absolutely right – this is a big problem in the Jewish community. Today I felt like there was too much compelling coverage out there to limit the post to a Jewish focus. But I would love to foster a dialogue – here, and in general – about eating disorders among Jewish girls and women. (Check out the book “Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia” by Sheila and Lisa Himmel.)

  3. Angelita Isbrecht

    Anorexia nervosa (AN), characterized by refusal to maintain a healthy body weight, an obsessive fear of gaining weight, and an unrealistic perception of current body weight. However, some patients can suffer from anorexia nervosa unconsciously. These patients are classified under “atypical eating disorders”. Anorexia can cause menstruation to stop, and often leads to bone loss, loss of skin integrity, etc. It greatly stresses the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks and related heart problems. The risk of death is greatly increased in individuals with this disease.’

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