At The Emily Program, Veritas Collaborative, and our parent company Accanto Health, our care extends beyond eating disorders. We care for people—those we serve and those we work with. We share a firm belief that each person belongs here, understanding that diversity in identity, experience, and perspective is critical to our work. In our relationships with colleagues and clients, we value trust, respect, and a commitment to inclusion.
This commitment is a shared responsibility. Helping us ensure that our values are reflected in our practices and policies is Accanto Health’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Council. With staff from both The Emily Program and Veritas Collaborative, the EDI Council plays an essential role in advancing meaningful change both internally and externally.
Each June, members of the eating disorder community unite to recognize World Eating Disorders Action Day (WEDAD). People experiencing eating disorders firsthand, along with the friends, families, providers, researchers, and policymakers who support them, rally across the globe around a common goal of understanding, connection, and healing.
We invite you to join us this year. Here are five actions you can take today to support eating disorder awareness, education, and recovery.
We all live in diet culture, a society obsessed with thinness and dieting. Weight and food biases permeate the air we breathe, tingeing our thoughts and actions in ways sometimes hard to notice. Providers, patients—none of us—are immune to these biases. They’re often subtle and deeply embedded, and left unexamined and unchecked, they can manifest in interactions between patients and even the most capable, well-intentioned providers.
In this article, we define and discuss weight and food bias, including its perpetuating factors and health consequences. Learn the impact of weight stigma and how to recognize and counter implicit and explicit bias in yourself, your practice, and in our larger society.
Weight bias refers to negative attitudes, beliefs, or assumptions about others based on body weight or size. Internalized weight bias occurs when these negative weight-related beliefs are absorbed and held about oneself.
Weight bias can lead to weight stigma, or the disapproval of someone based on their weight. Stigma is seeing someone negatively because of their weight, which can in turn lead to treating someone negatively because of it. Stigma manifests in stereotyping, bullying, and discrimination on the basis of weight, as well as exclusion and marginalization in media, professional, health care, and other settings. While weight bias harms people of all sizes, those who live in bodies that do not conform to “normal” body size expectations experience the greatest weight stigmatization.
Kitty Westin is an internationally known advocate for those with eating disorders. Since losing her daughter Anna to anorexia in 2000, she has worked tirelessly and tenaciously to improve access to eating disorder care.
In this episode Kitty reflects on two decades of advocacy, including her role in creating treatment centers, a non-profit organization, and the historic Anna Westin Act, the first eating disorders legislation passed into federal law. Honoring Anna’s spirit throughout, she encourages others to voice their own experiences to create change.
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.
September 23-27, 2019 marks Weight Stigma Awareness Week (#WSAW2019). The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) started Weight Stigma Awareness Week to help the entire eating disorder community understand why weight stigma should matter to everyone, not just those in higher-weight bodies.
Weight stigma is the judgment and assumption that a person’s weight reflects their personality, character, or lifestyle. For example, the common stereotype that people in larger bodies are lazy is an example of weight stigma. Weight stigma also plays out in other ways, such as a lack of proper accommodation for larger bodies on airplanes or in public seating spaces.
Not only is weight stigma a cruel form of bullying, but it is also inaccurate. Medical studies and scientific evidence have shown that all body sizes can be healthy. Read our blog about body diversity to learn more about why health isn’t size-specific.
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