The 2010s: A Decade in Review

Highlights of the decade

At The Emily Program we spend a lot of time looking ahead. To hope and healing. To expanded access to care for people with eating disorders. To advanced awareness, education, and treatment. Our vision is a future of peaceful relationships with food, weight, and body, where anyone affected by an eating disorder can experience full, lifelong recovery.

As we work to heal the future, we also acknowledge the past and present. We accept where we are and where we’ve been, both as an organization and a culture at large. We pause and we reflect so that we can move forward with greater clarity, knowledge, and compassion.

To that end, we are using the start of this new decade to reflect on the previous decade in the world of eating disorders. The 2010s witnessed changes in the fields of eating disorder awareness, research, and care, as well as the culture surrounding them.

In our decade review, we celebrate ten years of growth at The Emily Program as well as advances in eating disorder research, legislation, media literacy, and body acceptance.

2010:

  • The Emily Program moves the 8-year-old Anna Westin House from its original home in Chaska, MN to a renovated church in St. Paul, doubling the capacity of the program.
  • Research shows that yoga may decrease anxiety, depression, and body image disturbance in adolescents with eating disorders.
  • Dr. Lindo (formerly Linda) Bacon releases an updated edition of her groundbreaking Health at Every Size book, giving rise to the HAES movement.
  • A former Cosmopolitan editor exposes the “reverse retouching” practices used to airbrush magazine models who appear visibly unwell.

2011:

  • The Emily Program opens its first site outside of Minnesota—in Seattle, WA—offering care previously unavailable to residents of the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Emily Program renovates the historic Toogood building in St. Paul, MN to provide more treatment options, including expanded adolescent programming.
  • The first professional association for eating disorder treatment providers, The Residential Eating Disorders Consortium (REDC), is created to raise the bar for standards of treatment, conduct collaborative research, and advocate for policies that improve access to care at all levels.
  • Advances in brain imaging allow for new research into the neurobiology of eating disorders.
  • Sonya Renee Taylor launches The Body is Not an Apology movement with a Facebook post that has since united a global community in unapologetic and radical self-love.
  • The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) sponsors the first Weight Stigma Awareness Week (WSAW).

2012:

  • Research examines eating disorder symptoms in women over 50, challenging the stereotype that the conditions affect only young women.
  • Tumblr bans blogs that “actively promote self-harm,” including those that “glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders.”
  • As part of its six-part “Health Initiative,” Vogue pledges to no longer hire models who are dangerously underweight.
  • Katie Couric and Lady Gaga share their experiences with eating disorders, joining celebrities like Demi Lovato, Paula Abdul, and Princess Diana who also publicly addressed the issue.

2013:

  • The Emily Program opens Hillside, West End, and Neptune Lodging, the first of their kind lodging accommodations to provide people with safe, affordable, and convenient places to live while receiving eating disorder care in MN and WA.
  • The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) replaces the DSM-IV. Binge eating disorder is recognized as a distinct illness; diagnostic criteria for anorexia and bulimia are broadened; and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) becomes two distinct diagnoses, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED) and Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder (UFED).
  • The mental health and substance use disorder parity rule is released, ensuring insurance plans give equal consideration to mental/behavioral health benefits and medical/surgical ones.

2014:

  • Cleveland Center for Eating Disorders joins The Emily Program, and The Emily Program opens the first residential eating disorder program in Northeast Ohio.
  • The Emily Program opens a site in South Sound, WA.
  • Aerie launches its #AerieREAL campaign, featuring unretouched models in bodies of different sizes.

2015:

  • The Anna Westin Act of 2015 is introduced in the House and Senate, calling for better healthcare training for recognizing and treating eating disorders as well as parity in insurance coverage.
  • The Emily Program opens an outpatient site in Pittsburgh, PA that offers individual, group, and family therapy.
  • Facebook removes its “feeling fat” status option and emoticon in response to a Change.org petition.
  • Model and body-image activist Tess Holliday is featured on the cover of People’s body issue.

2016:

  • Congress passes the 21st Century Cures Act, including provisions from The Anna Westin Act of 2015, to become the first legislation specifically written for people with eating disorders.
  • Mattel introduces new Barbie body types for the first time in the doll’s 57-year history.
  • Ashley Graham becomes the first plus-sized woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition.

2017:

  • The Emily Program opens a residential program in Seattle, WA to offer a full continuum of care in the state, including residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient services.
  • Congress makes eating disorder research eligible for funding from the Department of Defense’s Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP).
  • Hunger, Roxane Gay’s memoir about her relationship with food and her body, is named a New York Times bestseller and one of Time’s and NPR’s “best books of 2017.”

2018:

  • Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins reveals her struggle with an eating disorder and opens a new chapter in the conversation about eating disorders and sports.
  • The Emily Program celebrates its 25th anniversary with special guests Jessie Diggins, Kitty Westin, and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
  • The Emily Program expands residential care for adolescents in St. Paul, MN and adds additional lodging in Cleveland, OH.
  • The National Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders (NCEED), made possible by the 21st Century Cures Act, is created to develop and share eating disorder training for health professionals.

2019:

  • The Emily Program opens the third Anna Westin House, The Anna Westin House West, in Minneapolis, MN.
  • Bipartisan congresswomen introduce the Nutrition CARE Act, the first eating disorders legislation to improve access to care for seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare.
  • Bipartisan senators introduce the SERVE Act to ensure comprehensive eating disorders treatment for military members and their families.
  • Instagram and Facebook ban the promotion of weight-loss products to users under 18.
  • Shrill,” a Hulu mini-series featuring a plus-size woman’s story of self- and body-acceptance, receives favorable reviews and is renewed for a second season.

Eating disorders affect 30 million Americans during their lifetime, and still, the overwhelming majority never receive care. Legislative policy and insurance coverage continue to impact treatment access, and stigma and discrimination continue to shape public understanding.

There is work to do in 2020 and beyond. There are laws to make and attitudes to change, marginalized bodies to center and research to practice. There are many, many people who still deserve care and healing.

We pledge to continue contributing to and supporting progress in treatment, access to care, and education. We’re hopeful we will be able to achieve as much in the coming decade as in the last.

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