In light of this week being National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, I would like to pose a challenge: start talking.
Eating disorders, disordered eating and poor body image plague the lives of so many girls, women, boys and men. Although causes vary from person to person, and literature fails to agree on the exact etiology of eating disorders, they are often linked to underlying psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Poor body image, disordered eating and eating disorders can begin to take over someone’s life, guiding behaviors, decisions and affecting the quality of living. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Lives don’t have to be dominated by these; control doesn’t have to be lost in an effort to maintain it. Struggles with eating are often kept personal — arguably especially on this campus where everyone seems to have it all together. Admitting to have a problem leaves one extremely vulnerable, a feeling generally not well accepted. Challenge this. Being vulnerable yourself may create an environment in which your friends can be vulnerable with you, in which they can share their struggles.
Start talking about worrisome behavior you notice in your friends: her new diet, his seemingly obsessive gym time. Talking creates community. Community leads to support and support can cause someone to get the help that they may need.
So my challenge is this: Listen to what your friends say about themselves. If it’s alarming, please say something. Your words of concern, out of compassion, could be the catalyst toward healing. Start listening and start talking. Start creating a community who understands and who cares.
I challenge you to just say something. It might be the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to do, but just imagine what you could be in the life of someone you care about.