Engaging non-traditional ‘faces’ of eating disorders in dialogue

Engaging non-traditional ‘faces’ of eating disorders in dialogue

CheveseTurnerBy Chevese Turner, Founder, President, CEO of BEDA, USA

The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is a proud partner in support of World Eating Disorder Action Day #WeDoAct. BEDA leadership believes in this incredibly important activism because every culture, continent and community deals with binge eating disorder (BED), and we rarely see the spectrum of faces or hear the chorus of voices that represent marginalized groups.

World Eating Disorder Action Day and BEDA grew from similar principles–the idea that eating disorders do not only affect the traditional thin, white, young female, a common misperception. Eating disorders strike people from all backgrounds, levels of education, ages, nationalities, genders, faiths and sizes. Eating disorders do not have a single “face,” however the unfortunate stereotypes that perpetuate would lead people to believe otherwise.

Binge Eating Disorder woefully misunderstood
Because of these stereotypes, people dealing with BED often don’t get the help they need and are a woefully underserved community. Some of the problem is due to a lack of awareness about BED worldwide, but many cultures also do not understand that BED impacts people within their communities. Additional obstacles include doctors who fail to recognize the symptoms to properly diagnose and treat, or refer their patients; and insurance companies that do not provide adequate coverage for people who are not “underweight.”

In America, there is not enough discussion about the variety of eating disorders, let alone fair representation of the variety of faces that are impacted by them. BED is increasingly part of the larger ED conversation at professional levels, but sadly is not recognized as frequently by the general public, meaning individuals who need help do not know to seek it, or often, where to go for support.

Finding ways to start conversations among all cultures
Due to lack of information, education, resources, research and better BED treatment models, it is essential to open a dialog within every community about how members are affected. BEDA and other organizations worldwide are working through World Eating Disorders Action Day to find ways to start these conversations and make them relevant to individuals by identifying cultural touchstones.BEDAlogo

Weight stigma is one of those touchstones for BEDA. People affected by BED often face discrimination and shame based on body shape and size. BEDA works to build an EDs dialog by providing toolkits to help people discuss weight and eating disorders with their doctor, teacher or movement professional, which provides a way to engage the many non-traditional ‘faces’ of eating disorders who are lacking much needed support.

On World Eating Disorders Action Day, June 2
BEDA will participate in World Eating Disorders Action Day, June 2, on social media by hosting a Tweetchat at 3:00 pm EST, in addition to supporting BED advocacy and reach using the #WeDoAct on Twitter posts.

BEDA was founded on the principle that people with EDs in non-traditional shaped bodies, need representation, treatment and coverage. The same principle is applicable to every other ‘non-traditional’ community, and BEDA is proud to be among more than 120 groups across 31 countries fighting to advance the understanding of EDs as treatable genetically-linked illnesses that affect a large cross-section of the world’s population, embraces diversity, and raises awareness amongst policy makers to allocate resources and establish coherent national systems.

An international day of awareness can be an impactful way to generate momentum, because creating awareness is the first stepping stone toward action and change.

About Chevese
Chevese Turner is a nationally recognized activist who passionately shares her journey with binge eating disorder and the insidious effects of bullying and weight stigma on those living in larger bodies. Chevese founded BEDA in June 2008 recognizing the need for an organization to advocate on behalf individuals affected by (BED) and the providers who treat them. Her professional experience includes work in the health care, pharmaceutical, political, and non-profit arenas. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two energetic sons and faithful dog Cocoa.
BEDA’s Twitter handle: @BEDAorg

Join Chevese in supporting World Eating Disorders Action Day. Be sure to follow along on Twitter @WorldEDDay and hashtag #WeDoAct, #WorldEDActionDay, @WorldEatingDisordersAction on Instagram and World Eating Disorders Action Day on Facebook.