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Eating disorder awareness is for 'every body'


The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is hosting its annual NEDAwareness Week from Feb. 22-28. This year, NEDA invitesEvery Body to Have a Seat at the Table” by challenging systemic biases and elevating the voices of members of marginalized communities, who are often underrepresented in conversations about eating disorders, organizers say.




For Cornell senior Weston Barker, this process begins by shifting the stereotypes of what a person with an eating disorder looks like.

Weston Barker


“I think we’ve often had a very narrow conception of what it means to have an eating disorder,” Barker said. “It’s not just men [and] women, it also affects transgender people, the LGBTQIA community, and students of color.”


Amy Whitney, a mental health counselor who runs the Nourishing Self group therapy in the Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness at Ithaca College, said it is “critical” for NEDA to continue “to broaden their advocacy to include all manifestations of disordered eating.”

“It’s great to see the 2021 emphasis on ‘every body’ having a seat at the table — all genders, all sizes, all racial and cultural identities, all relational orientations, all abilities,” Whitney stated via email.

Eating Disorders in College

Conversations about eating disorders are particularly important to have in college settings, as eating disorders are most likely to fully develop between the ages of 18 to 21, according to

Hannah Sarnie, Ithaca College ’20 and a mental health counselor at Walden Behavioral Care in Massachusetts, emphasized the importance of understanding why eating disorders develop and understanding that they are about more than just trying to be thin.

“For a lot of people, it’s a form of punishment, for a lot of people, it’s a form of control over their life,” Sarnie said. “Having control over what you eat and how you appear gives that person [struggling with an eating disorder] a perceived sense of control.”

This need for control can be a particularly large factor for college students, who are both undergoing rapid life changes and transitions while also experiencing significant levels of stress, according to

Source: Liz Bierly

Getting Treatment

Although people from all backgrounds and identities struggle with eating disorders, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) are less likely than white individuals to have their symptoms recognized by medical professionals or to receive treatment for their disordered habits. The cost of treatment can also be a barrier, something that Anna Gardner, Ithaca College ’20, saw firsthand during a six-week inpatient program in August.

“I was so thankful I was on New York Medicaid at the time, otherwise, you know, a week of inpatient treatment is, like, $20,000,” Gardner said. “Who can afford that? No one can afford that, and especially when people are systematically oppressed, that’s not something that’s accessible.”

Seeking Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms or behaviors associated with an eating disorder, you are not alone.

Kristen Lind, health promotion specialist in the Center for Counseling, Health and Wellness, said students can utilize resources on campus such as Wellness Coaching or the Nourishing Self group therapy. Lind said that the Center can also connect students to off-campus resources.

“So many people experience distress in their relationships with their bodies, with food and nourishment, with movement and exercise, but think it’s ‘not bad enough’ to get help— ALL distress deserves compassionate attention!” Whitney said. “Please reach out to us at Counseling, Health & Wellness. You deserve to live in your body with more ease, kindness, and care.”


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