Twenty million women and 10 million men will endure a clinically significant eating disorder at some point in their lives. In recognition of Eating Disorder Awareness Week (Feb. 24 to March 2 this year), here are six organizations that have found their own way to show support for the millions affected. These campaigns and programs bring increased awareness to these issues that affect people of all shapes and sizes through improving body image, assisting those in treatment, and getting the social media sphere involved. The hope: To improve chances for early intervention and access to treatment.
Created by Sue Gillerlain, who recovered from anorexia and bulimia, the Goodbye Ed, Hello Me” line of Sarah-Kate jewelry includes charms, bracelets, necklaces, and key chains. Gillerlain wanted to create jewelry that serves as a constant reminder that life beyond an eating disorder is achievable. The name of the collection was inspired by Jenni Schaefer’s book by the same title. Schaefer, who overcame her own eating disorder, helped design the jewelry with Gillerlain. Schaefer is also a member of the Ambassador Council of the National Eating Disorders Association, speaker, and best-selling author. Ten percent of every sale is donated to the local branch of the National Eating Disorders Association in Seattle.
2. Barefaced & Beautiful
Much like Dove’s crusade for real beauty, the Barefaced & Beautiful Without & Within campaign urges women to celebrate self-acceptance by ditching makeup for a day and then posting their fresh-faced mugs to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook with the hashtag #Barefacedbeauty. The Renfrew Center — the nation’s first residential eating disorder facility — asks women to save that ten minutes of makeup application in the morning, promote natural beauty, and start a dialogue about healthy body image.
Another way to show support during National Eating Disorder Awareness week is to get a purple twibbon. A… what? Twibbon (Twitter plus ribbon equals twibbon, see what they did there?) is a site that creates ribbons and badges themed for a specific cause to use on Facebook and Twitter profile photos. Since 2009, Twibbon has raised awareness for over 200,000 brands, charities, and individuals.
4. Cubs for Coping
Cubs for Coping, the small but mighty initiative, provides hospitals, shelters, and eating disorder programs with handmade teddy bears for a little fuzzy-friended support. Founder Nicole Javorsky was diagnosed with anorexia when she was 14-years-old. After finding comfort in the stuffed animals she received from friends and family when she was in treatment (which can feel like a scary, unfamiliar place), Javorsky decided she wanted to share some of her own made with crazy fabrics and fun buttons. While Cubs for Coping isn't a registered non-profit, we've got to hand it to Javorsky for providing people in treatment with a cute source of The colorful cubs sell on Etsy for $11.95, but you can also donate to Cubs for Coping’s Fundraising page.
5. Dove Campaign For Real Beauty
The Dove Campaign For Real Beauty, launched in 2004, stemmed from the findings of The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report. The study (commissioned by Dove) asked women to define “real beauty.” The campaign, which has featured women displaying all types of beauty (wrinkles, curves, pale skin, freckles, age spots), sparked conversation about what really defines the word. Dove is committed to widen the narrow confines of what beauty means in an environment where we’re bombarded with sometimes unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards. Though there's been some backlash toward the campaign (regarding photoshopping of the women used in the ads) Dove is still heading toward the right direction, and starting up a dialogue about beauty standards. Check out Dove’s social-mission page to send a little confidence to a woman you know, share body image advice on Twitter with the hashtag #doveinspired, or participate in workshops and other events to help encourage beauty.
Causes, which provides free tools for people to spread the word about social issues, was founded in 2007 to seek out supporters, raise funds, and build steam through social platforms like Facebook. To date, over 170 million people have taken action for over 500,000 causes. The mission: “Empower anyone with a good idea or passion for change for change to impact the world.” Here’s the best part — anyone can join in. While there are quite a few enormous online resources about eating disorders NEDA's website and the Eating Disorders Resource Center, there’s less internet coverage about smaller initiatives, which is all the more reason to start your own.
How will you show support for National Eating Disorder Awareness Month? Let us know in the comment section below, or tweet the author @nicmcdermott.