More information, less empty "awareness"

I've been shocked, I've been grumpy, and I've been silly about Eating Disorder Awareness Weeks in the past, but this one is starting worse than ever:

Different advocacy groups have different weeks as their turf in their country so not all "awareness" weeks are the same. Which is a good role-play of the lack of consensus between groups on what eating disorders are, how they're treated, and what recovery means...

The media coverage, which is the holy grail of awareness weeks, is bad.

  • breathless repetitions of the SHOCK that EDs are not about thin white rich girls. Um. They never were and when we repeat it we just refresh the myth.
  • by not making sense: mixing up body image with dysmorphia, eating disorders with wanting to be thin

  • OH THE VISUALS. The distorted mirror shot, the before/after, the measuring tape, the scales, the headless freak show, and the empty plates. Sigh. Try this: emergency rooms, crossed out social calendars, drained bank accounts, funeral programs, cancelled graduations, the forwarded emails about upcoming Dr. Phil shows.
  • Quotes that contradict other quotes in the same piece.
  • Quotes by people who know little about the current thinking in the field
  • Myth busting that knocks one down by citing another
The advocacy and treatment worlds need to get on the same page. This will help with the media coverage, since we are the ones begging news outlets to accept that THIS is the week, yes, THIS one, to pay attention to this issue. This conversation means some uncomfortable moments, because no one wants to have their motives questioned. 

I'm not questioning anyone's motives. But not all "awareness" is equal, or helpful. Some is actively harmful and pulls away from the hard work that people I respect are doing. 

PS Thank you to Carrie Arnold for asking who ED awareness weeks are for, anyway.


  1. Exactly: Not all awareness is equal and some of it is actually harmful. (I immediately think of all the 'awareness' NEDIC has done that has made me headdesk so much.)


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