This year, the National Eating Disorders Association's annual theme is "It's Time to Talk About It." I couldn't agree more.
It's time to talk about what eating disorders are really like and who they really affect--girls and boys, young women and men, white and black, rich and poor, fat and thin. They affect teens from all kinds of families--loving, abusive, ordinary. Knowledge doesn't protect people from developing them; my daughter wrote her sixth-grade research paper on eating disorders, and I thought Now that she knows all about them, she'll never develop one. Wrong again.
There's a lot we don't know about eating disorders: what causes them, how best to help everyone recover, how to make recovery easier. But there's also a lot we do know, and that's what we should be talking about. Because secrecy gives anorexia and bulimia and binge-eating disorder and ED-NOS their power.
And for those who don't have eating disorders, talking about it is a good thing too. One recent magazine story estimated that 60 percent of American women eat in a disordered way (plus another 10 percent with diagnosable eating disorders), and I believe it. I believe it because I've been through it myself. Like so many American women, I've starved, binged, and wrestled miserably with my relationship with food and my body.
So I am very proud and pleased to announce that this year I'm partnering with NEDA to honor National Eating Disorders Awareness Week through a project I founded two years ago, Project BodyTalk, which collects audio commentaries from men, women, teens, and even children on their relationship with food, eating, body image, and weight.
I started the project after editing an anthology of essays, Feed Me!, on the same subject. What I love about Project BodyTalk is that you get to hear people's real voices. And that makes their stories so much more powerful and moving.
Another thing I love about the project is that it's not just about listening. Anyone can record a commentary and email it to me or upload it on our website. High school teachers have taken this on as a project, sending me hundreds of commentaries from teenagers. Groups of women have recorded commentaries together. There are joyful stories, difficult stories, triumphs and despair recorded on the website. I hope you'll listen, and learn, and send me your own commentary at hnbrown at syr dot edu.
And if you're anywhere near the Syracuse University campus, this week we're doing live recordings every day from 3 to 8 p.m., at the Newhouse School, Newhouse 2, 4th floor, audio suites, Suite P. Stop by. It's time to talk about it.