Archive for July 29, 2013

Media Monday: Exploring Eating Disorder Stereotypes

Submitted by EPF Volunteer

Close your eyes. What comes to mind when you try to visualize an individual with an eating disorder? Are they male or female? Young or old? Light or dark skinned? Are they thin or overweight?

For many people, when you bring up the term “eating disorder,” what comes to mind is a white, underweight, teenage girl. And although there may be many teenage girls suffering from an eating disorder, this does not accurately depict the majority. In fact, “the most common profile of someone suffering from an eating disorder is a woman or man in their 30s or 40s,” says psychiatrist, Cythia Bulik in her book, Midlife Eating Disorders. And it’s not just that we typecast eating disorders with age and gender — we do it with do it with race too. “Countless people in mid-life from all ethnic backgrounds struggle with eating disorders,” says Bulik.

And for those individuals struggling with an eating disorder in their 30’s and 40’s, the most common eating disorder is not anorexia, but binge-eating disorder (BED). I would guess that most people aren’t aware of this. In fact, I recently had a friend say to me that he was surprised when he saw people come out of an eating disorder treatment center that were overweight. I was taken aback at first, but continued to listen as he explained that he had always thought people with eating disorders were underweight, not overweight. Although I was a little shocked to hear that one of my peers thought this way, I remembered that I had also personally experienced this stigma myself while in a dual treatment facility. A man asked me why I was in treatment, and when I said I had an eating disorder he said, “you don’t look too thin.” Although my experience occurred a decade ago, this recent experience with a friend — alongside of the article that inspired this blog — have reminded me that we have not yet done a good enough job to educate the public about how people with eating disorders come in different shapes and sizes and colors.

What I also want to make sure I get across is the danger of this type of stereotyping: it makes it harder for those who do not fall within the stereotype to come forth for help. For example, when the man at my treatment center commented that I didn’t look too thin, in my head I remember thinking, well maybe I shouldn’t be here (which was ridiculous). And as Bulik explains, many times doctors “typecast [eating] disorders as a teen issue,” and “overlook these disorders in adults.” And in turn, for many, this stereotyping can become an obstacle to care.

What can we do? What can you do? Educate people by tweeting and posting the article below to Facebook. Let’s remove the stereotypes and the obstacles to care with conversation.



Media Monday: Time to explore our own judgement

Submitted by Adera Preston

Ask yourself, on a scale of 1-10, “How important is my appearance?”

you are beautiful

Follow that question with, “How come my appearance is this important to me?” Shockingly, approximately 80% of American women struggle with, or have struggled with, severe body-image issues. The outcome of this struggle is often a lack of self-esteem, which can impact: diet, exercise, mood, happiness and other things.

The role that judgment plays in the phenomenon, however, also is significant. Much of our self-esteem is determined by external influences, including those of advertising and media and opinions of peer groups. Pressures to conform, weight-wise, are not only about health. They often veer into the extreme.

Have you ever seen someone “sketchy” and changed directions, locked your car doors, or moved to the other side of the street? Recent studies in the Orlando Sentinel underscore that our prejudices and presumptions can cause us to take measures, such as the examples previously listed, to avoid any potential danger or conflict. At some point in our lives, we have all judged a book totally and completely by its cover. And at some point, we have all been wrong.

This is not a lesson about being judgmental, but hopefully it helps you become more aware. Our constant assumptions about others is what is continually endangering us as a society.

There are no definite causes of eating disorders, however along with biology and phycology, society is recognized on having a major influence. The culture we live in today affects us more than we know. The media that highlights a body-type natural to 3% of all women is the same media that is constantly influencing us, editing pictures us celebrities we strive to be like. Studies show that women who have more exposure to fashion magazines have a higher rate of body image issues. This is because these magazines and media ads often portray unrealistic as beautiful, and then label it normal.

So, it’s time to be more aware of the influence of our media today subliminally and lightly weighs appearance over health, pun definitely intended.

Media Monday: Love Notes

Submitted by TEPF Volunteer

If you didn’t already know, a lot of young women struggle with low-body image. Just to give you an idea, here are some statistics to think on:

“More than 52 percent of adolescent girls begin dieting before age 14.”

“50-88% of adolescent girls feel negatively about their body shape or size.”

“49% of teenage girls say they know someone with an eating disorder.”

“Only 33% of girls say they are at the “right weight for their body”, while 58% want to lose weight.”

“85% of young women worry “a lot” about how they look.”

“A report by the American Association of University Women indicated that for girls, “the way I look” is the most important indicator of self-worth, while for boys, self-worth is based on abilities, rather than looks.” source

I specifically want to focus in on the last stat, because there is a group of young women in New Zealand who are trying to change this. This spunky group, a part of the YWCA of Aotearoa New Zealand, are trying to get woman to love their bodies for what they do (instead of what they look like). The campaign is called, Love Notes. (Loving this title!)

Here is how it works. You take a picture of your favorite body part, write why you love this body part (i.e. my legs help me to run fast or my arms give loving hugs), and post it on their Facebook page.

YWCA board member, Hilary Max (23) says, “Love Notes is about helping young women move away from instinctively thinking about their ‘most beautiful’ body part and instead thinking about what body part helps them achieve, succeed, help others. Essentially what part of their body helps them to do good things!”

New Zealand professional track and field athlete, Sarah Cowley is Love Notes’ campaign ambassador. Check out the YouTube video:

The campaign ends July 31st and is open to New Zealand women over 13 years of age. I was a little bummed to see it was open just to those who live in New Zealand. But why not use this as inspiration and try sticking up your own love notes? I wrote one myself on a post-it note and put it on my bathroom mirror. That way I see it and repeat it every time I look in the mirror. Or why not start your own Facebook Love Notes page?



Call for Artwork!

The Emily Program Foundation is excited to announce

Art and Eating Disorders – Building Community Awareness

in partnership with Forecast Public Art and Hennepin County’s Multicultural Arts Committee

to bring you an innovative

Creative Care: Arts + Healing in the Twin Cities

This showcase will display a broad spectrum of impressive arts and healing activities in the Twin Cities, including the work being done to understand and heal from an eating disorder.  The show will be installed in a secure, glass-enclosed gallery space on the A-Level of the Government Center, in a hallway connecting the Government Center with City Hall, from Nov 1st – Dec 31st.  And, around 2,000 individuals move through this space each week, so it is an amazing opportunity to reach a large and diverse audience about eating disorders.

We need your artwork!

Art and Eating Disorders – Building Community Awareness will incorporate artwork (2D and 3D) for the 2 month long exhibition.  If you have ever created anything inspired by eating disorder recovery, this is a night for you!  Themes include, but are not limited to, eating disorders, body image, and recovery.

Don’t wait to take part in this show; space is limited.  Submissions are accepted on a first-come first-serve basis.  Art pieces can be submitted on paper, foam core, and in other ways.  The gallery cannot support artwork that is too heavy. Artwork will be displayed anonymously with a description (unless otherwise requested).


Interested artists need to submit an entry with submission form to

Keri Clifton no later than October 1st, 2013.

Questions? Contact Keri at 651.379.6134 or

Call for Artists Submission Form

The Emily Program Foundation Welcomes Adera from Penumbra’s Summer Institute

Penumbra's Summer Institute Third Year Intern

Penumbra’s Summer Institute Third Year Intern

Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute is a three year leadership development program that trains teenagers to use their passion for the arts to promote social justice and equity. Across the Twin Cities, students are positively impacting their communities by standing up, speaking out, and moving those who listen with the power of performance.  As part of the third year, students get an opportunity to intern at a host site and experience advocacy in action.

An artist, athlete and rising humanitarian, Adera Preston joins The Emily Program Foundation for the summer of 2013.  Adera will be a junior at Hopkins High School in the fall. A national pageant winner, she dances, sings, acts and does creative writing in addition to playing volleyball and softball. Adera is a third-year activist artist in Penumbra Theatre’s Summer Institute and is currently creating a show there. She hopes to obtain life-long skills by working with the brilliant Emily Program Foundation staff.