NEDAwareness Week: Youth and Bullying

Posted by on Feb 25, 2015

One of the biggest misconceptions (maybe the biggest, actually) about eating disorders is that these illnesses are “about the food.”

This is 100% untrue.

From the outside, they may look like they are about food and weight issues — and even sufferers themselves may believe this. Ultimately, though, eating disorders are “about” much more. They’re about underlying pain and insecurities, about overwhelming emotions that you would do anything in your power to lessen. Even in those instances where the condition did, in fact, begin with a weight concern or a diet, if this issue has reached the level of a full-blown eating disorder, then it has morphed into an entirely different monster. And it’s no longer about the food.

Bullying and Eating Disorders

Bullying is a powerful example of this. Many eating disorder survivors say they were bullied as children for being either overweight or somehow physically different from their peers. They may have started restricting calories, exercising more, or engaging in other food behaviors in order to lose weight and finally “fit in.”

At some point, these eating issues reached pathological levels, taking up more and more of the person’s time and interfering with daily life. They may have hit and surpassed their original weight goal, only to discover that their behaviors were now fueled by so much more — fear of rejection, the pain of being taunted and abused by peers, the wildly frightening lack of control that one feels when she walks into school each day not knowing what she’ll face. Focusing on food is a distraction from that. It’s a way of dealing with intolerable pain.

Day 4 of National Eating Disorder Awareness week is dedicated to bullying and youth issues. According to NEDA, bullying can cause feelings of shame, isolation, and profound hopelessness, all of which can be triggers for eating disorders. As many as 65% of people with an ED report that bullying contributed in some way to to their condition.

I have the privilege of being a contributor to an awesome youth-oriented website, and its new college initiative, Proud2BMe On Campus, which is partnered with The Recovery Village. Their efforts go toward helping youth to develop positive body images and to address the growing epidemic of eating disorders on college campuses.

Youth Creating Change

Join us today at 1 p.m. for Proud2BMe’s first ever twitter chatYouth Creating Change: Body Positivity and ED Advocacy.

Proud2BMe Twitter Chat on Youth and Bullying

And read my article on about other ways that young people — particularly young children — are affected by negative body messages.

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