National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Monday, February 12, 2007

Written by Scott Gilbert

February 25th to March 5th is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAW) 2007. The theme of the week for this year is “Be comfortable in your genes; wear jeans that fit the REAL you”. This theme expands on the NEDAW event, the Great Jeans Giveaway.

This year will mark the 20th year of NEDAW, which strives to highlight the fact that our body shape and size are both strongly influenced by biological factors, such as genetics. Genetics also play a role in the development of eating disorders, another issue that NEDAW calls attention to.

Individuals often struggle against their natural size, which is influenced largely by genetics, in order to fit into clothing that is too small for them; like the “skinny jeans” in the back of their dresser. Unhealthy dieting, poor body image and often eating disorders, are caused by individuals attempting to fight against their natural size.

Unhealthy body image is often caused by the mainstream media, which promotes and advertises celebrities that are extremely thin, and who have make-up artists working on their image. Young people, often girls, are confronted daily by these media images of what they “should” look like. Furthermore, these media images are carried through to school and home environments, where friends and family often carry these ideas of which body types are acceptable.

A week such as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is vitally important. Such a week promotes the fact that every body shape and size is acceptable. It is important that all individuals regardless of age or gender are comfortable in their own bodies. Our own self-acceptance greatly affects our mental well-being, as well as our physical well-being, confidence and our relationships with others.

Everyone has the ability to adopt a healthy lifestyle and we can all aim to be healthy for our particular body type. However, the fact remains that we cannot change our genes. The National Easting Disorders Association hopes for everyone to feel comfortable in their own genes, simply by wearing comfortable jeans. The Great Jeans Getaway, the program which this year’s NEDAW slogan stems from, empowers individuals to donate old or new pairs of jeans that do not fit them comfortably. Many individuals spend their entire lives striving to fit into clothing that has not fit for years, or that has never fit. The physical presence of this clothing in one’s closet promotes unhealthy and unrealistic ideals that will inevitably lead to one not feeling comfortable in their own genes.

As stated on their website (www.nationaleatingdisorders.org), the word “genes” is used in the NEDAW 2007 key message for a specific reason. It is important that individuals recognize that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not personal choices. Researchers find out more all the time concerning the influence of genetics on eating disorders. It is proven that while environmental factors may make the final pull, genetics contribute greatly to the creation on eating disorders.

More information about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which runs from March 25th-February 3rd, can be found here. Students can also visit this site to sign up as an NEDAW coordinator for their geographic area.

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