February 23-Mar.1 begins National Eating Disorders Awareness week (NEDA). In the United States, “20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED).” I am certainly one of them. As a chronic binge eater, restrictive eater, crash dieter, obsessed and damaged soul, I am joining Monday’s initiative to spend the day without makeup–and post a picture of it.
The National Eating Disorders Association says, “Eating disorders are complex illnesses that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, biological and social factors. As our natural body size and shape is largely determined by genetics, fighting our natural size and shape can lead to unhealthy dieting practices, poor body image and decreased self-esteem.” Furthermore, “Body dissatisfaction and thin ideal internalization are both significant risk factors for the development of eating disorder behaviors like restricting and binge eating. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are about much more than food. Recent research has shown that genetic factors create vulnerabilities that place individuals at risk for acting on cultural pressures and using food to feel in control or manage overwhelming emotions.”
This body dissatisfaction goes far beyond weight and plagues us all in one way or another. Whether you go without makeup all the time or if this is a scary first for you (like it will be for me), the idea is the purposeful statement that you do not have to add anything to yourself in order to be beautiful. We need to embrace and accept our natural selves.
Operation Beautiful, a simple and powerful movement close to my heart, started this notion a year ago. I recently found the Renfrew Center‘s #barefacedbeauty campaign on Twitter. In connection with NEDA week, Renfrew is asking people send in pictures with the #barefacedbeauty in an effort to help us get used to seeing, and becoming more comfrotable in our own skin.
An article about Renfrew’s campaign explains,”We aren’t saying that if you wear a lot of makeup you will develop an eating disorder, but we have found some of our patients depend on makeup for self-worth. They treat it like exercising too much or wearing a size zero. A lot of our patients hide themselves behind makeup,” says Adrienne Ressler. As the national training director for the Renfrew Center Foundation, Ressler goes on to say, “We just want to empower women and help them realize that makeup isn’t just a body-image issue, but women could be hiding behind it when they aren’t standing up for themselves or dealing with their true feelings about something.”
I can’t even recall the last time I left the house without something over my skin. It is interesting to me, that I am uncomfortable (or at least unfamiliar) with my own, naked face. When does makeup begin to alter the way we see ourselves? How long before our notion of how we actually look becomes distorted? Without a doubt, the way I see myself in my mind’s eye, the way I paint my face and do my eyes, is not what other people see–and may not be what I actually look like at all!
“This year’s NEDAwareness Week theme is “I Had No Idea” to raise awareness towards the significant impact eating disorders have on individuals, families, and communities across the nation. The more people who learn about these life-threatening illnesses, the more lives we can save.”
For example, I had no idea …
-that you can be too thin
-that over-exercising can lead to an eating disorder
-that 35% of “normal” dieters progress to pathological dieting
-that an eating disorder can kill you or lead to permanent physical damage
-that [I, my daughter, son, sister, brother, friend] had a problem.
“Your participation will 1) raise awareness that eating disorders are serious illnesses, not lifestyle choices; 2) provide accurate information to
medical, educational and/or business communities, and 3) direct people to potentially life-saving information and resources about eating disorders. Education and direction to resources can lead to earlier detection, intervention, and help-seeking, ultimately improving likelihood of full recovery.”
You can download the NEDA PDF here, contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 800.931.2237, share the poster on your social media account, participate in the #barefacedbeauty and/or #nomakeupmonday campaign, share this article, etc. We really have “no idea” who is suffering. By doing just one thing in promotion of awareness and education, we could save a person.
Monday, I will start healing myself by uncovering my actual face. Getting to know me, again, without affectation. Please join me. Find me on Facebook and Twitter and share your pictures with me (and I might need a little encouragement from you too)…