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The 27th annual National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which is Feb. 23 -- March 1. Ask anyone. Most people suffering from eating disorders are young, wealthy, Caucasian women. And you can't be too rich or too thin, right? Wrong. And the truth is that eating disorders look much like our population, affecting every socio-economic demographic -- young/old, female/male, wealthy/poor, heterosexual/gay, Christian/Jewish, African-American, Hispanic, Asian and, yes, Caucasian. The rate of occurrence is also particularly high among college students, athletes and gay men. There may be challenges that are unique to each demographic -- men and African-American women are less inclined to seek help, for example -- but bottom line is that an eating disorder is a life-threatening illness no matter who you are.
We expect to see eating disorders diagnosed among young girls and raging rampant in Hollywood and the advertising and fashion industries. As 2008's reigning Miss America, I am the stereotype. I did battle anorexia and, today, am thankful to be fully recovered.
Let's all come together to model acceptance and celebration of diversity in body shapes and sizes. And if you are concerned for yourself, a friend or family member, you can take a free, anonymous online screening for eating disorders at MyBodyScreening.org. And find more information at MyNeda.org.
I had no idea... that freedom from an eating disorder was possible. But I am living proof.
If you're struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.
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