Today is World Eating Disorders Action Day, a day to raise awareness, advocate for change, and dispose of stale myths. Myths like the idea that eating disorders are the sole provenance of young girls when 1 in 4 people coping with eating disorders are men, and middle-aged women are the fastest-growing segment of the population being diagnosed. Or that thinness, on its own, is a virtue–until the point that you end up in the hospital.
To mark World Eating Disorders Action Day (or #WeDoAct), the cast of To The Bone created the PSA you see above. To The Bone is an upcoming film by director Marti Noxon (Glee, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), a dark comedy chronicling her own struggles with anorexia. The film’s stars, including Keanu Reeves and Lily Collins, share the Academy for Eating Disorders’ 9 Truths About Eating Disorders:
Truth #1: Many people with eating disorders look healthy, yet may be extremely ill.
Truth #2: Families are not to blame, and can be the patients’ and providers’ best allies in treatment.
Truth #3: An eating disorder diagnosis is a health crisis that disrupts personal and family functioning.
Truth #4: Eating disorders are not choices, but serious biologically influenced illnesses.
Truth #5: Eating disorders affect people of all genders, ages, races, ethnicities, body shapes and weights, sexual orientations, and socioeconomic statuses.
Truth #6: Eating disorders carry an increased risk for both suicide and medical complications.
Truth #7: Genes and environment play important roles in the development of eating disorders.
Truth #8: Genes alone do not predict who will develop eating disorders.
Truth #9: Full recovery from an eating disorder is possible. Early detection and intervention are important.
The World Eating Disorders Action Day organization also proposes 9 goals for taking action against eating disorders, many of which are practical, attainable goals–ending mandatory BMI checks and weigh-ins in schools, education for front-line providers, and seven other sensible changes that could make a huge difference to those who are vulnerable to eating disorders, those who are currently coping with them, and those who are recovering.
If you’re interested in Noxon’s experiences with anorexia and other mental health issues, she discussed them on The Tools podcast, getting into both her illness and her recovery after a near-death experience. She also brings up her reasons for wanting to create To The Bone: to share the idea that eating disorders aren’t really about food, or about the body, and to talk about the reality that there’s a whole industry dedicated to making us feel bad about ourselves.
And while that industry may not be responsible for the existence of eating disorders, it certainly makes them more complicated, and surrounds them with stigma that’s hard to shake.