The shroud around many mental disorders has been becoming more transparent as doctors, researchers, and science help to explain what makes the human body tick. One that happens to be the most deadly also happens to be the one that no one wants to talk about. An eating disorder is not simply caused by an individual's string of choices, but also by genetic markers.
I'm teaming up with the Missouri Eating Disorders Council to help open the dialog addressing the myths and facts that surround eating disorders. With only about 1 in 10 people living with an eating disorder on average actually seeking treatment, it's definitely worth talking about. About 30 million people in our country alone are diagnosed with an eating disorder, and over a half million of those live in Missouri. That's nearly 10% of our state's population!
This past Friday, I joined other Midwest Influencer Network bloggers and our out-of-town blogger guests to meet with members of the MOEDC and learn more about their campaign. A cocktail hour at Central Table started off the evening, with Ann of Stealth Creative introducing herself and interviewing bloggers on video about their opinions/knowledge of eating disorders. We then sat down together and heard from MOEDC's Annie Seal, a local mother who nearly lost her daughter to an eating disorder.. Her experience was eye-opening and introduced us to some of the myths that persist in society about eating disorders. Over an amazing meal served by Central Table, we also heard from local swimwear designer Lori Coulter, who seeks to create bathing suits for all bodies, as well as the personal story of a strong woman who has battled an eating disorder. The illness comes in all shapes and sizes, just as we do.
Being in the fashion industry, bloggers have an insider's view and usually some pretty strong opinions on how body-based issues and insecurities. It's no secret that the fashion industry is built around the lithe, slender female body, and typically excludes people of varying sizes. Is that what is ideal? How much of an impact does a constant barrage of a thin frame have on young, impressionable minds? How can the fashion industry change to reflect a more healthy image rather than just a small size? All these questions and more came up at Central Table.
My personal experience with how the fashion and blogging world handles body ideals is intimate and strong. A previous job of mine dealt with fashion models. They would have their measurements taken multiple times a year, often with critiques on gained inches or some body part that had gone too soft. The modeling agency wasn't even what I would consider a tough one, but I knew what was at stake for these young women and men. When it came to blogging for me, I spent a while debating whether or not to even start a blog. I didn't fit the beauty standards, my thighs are too round, my hair too weird, my taste in clothing too low-class. I was worried I'd stick out like a sore size 6 thumb, but I went for it anyway! Of course, I haven't had any issues surrounding my size, but I am forever aware of how my body looks in images. I don't believe that I am "photogenic," I just have learned how to position myself in ways I find most flattering in images. See? It's all a mirage! Both the fashion industry with its Photoshop and bloggers with our sneaky poses. Goals? False! It's all an illusion that creates unattainable ideals that can be detrimental to a young person's mental health.
So, I hereby have formally joined the conversation on eating disorders! I vow to raise awareness, open safe and informative dialogue with others when necessary, and help to educate those who may not know what is myth and what is fact. I will strive to promote a healthy lifestyle, and try to inspire other to make conscious decisions to support their own healthy choices as well.
I would love for you to join the conversation! Everyone knows someone who is affected by an eating disorder, whether you know it or not. Educate yourself so that you can be there when someone might need a friend or support. Learn more about myths, find resources, and also catch up on treatment options in case you might need it yourself.
Photography by Ashley Kuenstler.
Selfie and adjacent shot by yours truly.
Thank you to the MOEDC for inviting me to be a part of this campaign and for hosting the lovely dinner last week. This post is also sponsored by Explore St. Louis and the Midwest Influencer Network, but all opinions, support, and enthusiasm are my own.