Just over a month ago, I had the honour to be a speaker at the National Eating Disorders Association (www.myNEDA.org) conference which took place smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood in Los Angeles, California. I gave a workshop to families and friends of loved ones with eating disorders entitled, What About Me? How to take care of yourself while caring for a loved one with an eating disorder. I had such a great time sharing what I do in the therapy room every day with families with a captive audience with lots of participation. If you want a copy of this presentation, I’d be happy to send you one – just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send one along.
As I walked through the streets of Hollywood in the evenings soaking in the obsession with celebrities and all things that Hollywood represents, I thought to myself that holding a national eating disorder conference in the middle of where all this body/beauty/youthful-looking obsession began was most appropriate.
I was overwhelmed by all of the incredible work being done all over North America by old and young, by students, families, and professionals to combat deadly eating disorders. The ideas and concepts we discussed (mostly around preventing eating disorders and treating them) stood in such sharp contrast to what was being promoted all around us in Hollywood- the thinness beauty ideal, obsession with youth, and being “famous”.
Some of the highlights of the NEDA conference for me include:
1. How our youth can prevent the proliferation and incidence of disorders through advocacy efforts. In fact, at the conference, NEDA hosted their first Teen Summit. Teens between 13-17 were invited to share their knowledge and experience about the top issues impacting themselves and their peers, and were given tools to become leaders in their communities. NEDA is also launching a new teen website and online community in this vein called Proud to Be Me (www.Proud2Bme.org)
2. How diverse eating disorders are and how they cross all socioeconomic and cultural boundaries. At the conference, we heard heartbreaking stories of suffering from a wide variety of women and men from many cultures, religions, sizes, ages, regions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is true that there is not one ‘face’ of someone with an eating disorder.
3. Becoming aware of “secondhand” media exposure as a risk factor for eating disorders. Anne Becker, MD, Phd gave a fascinating presentation on her research from a study based in Fiji, where variation in television access allowed discernment of secondhand effects. In short, before television was introduced there was no such thing as ‘eating disorders’ in the population, and after two years of being exposed to Western television, the incidence was over 11% for adolescent girls.
About Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor
Esther Kane, MSW, Registered Clinical Counsellor, is in full-time private practise as a psychotherapist in Courtenay, B.C. Esther has over a decade of experience counselling women and their loved ones with a multitude of presenting problems. Her main focus is helping women to become free of barriers which keep them stuck so that they can become all that they dream of being.
To book a session or to set up a free 15-minute phone consultation (only if you reside in Canada), call Esther at (250) 338-1800.
To learn more about Esther’s services, please visit her website and read glowing testimonials from many satisfied clients, http://www.estherkane.com
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