Here’s something worth checking out.  If you go to the gym often and wonder about some of the things you overhear, or if you have friends who engage in negative or conformist body image talk, you are not alone. At The Round in Toronto’s Kensington Market on February 4th, a collection of performers in support of Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) presented work on stage around the topic of body image and/or eating disorders. As soon as the first artist hit the stage, everyone in the room knew that an important type of social change is transforming Toronto.

Thanks to EDAW, there are now lots of resources available to learn about these issues through NEDIC, Canada’s National Eating Disorders Information Centre. Eating disorders are something that have often been shrouded in secrecy, reinforced by an unfortunate belief that it is a socially taboo topic, so the thrust of their campaign has been #talkingsaveslives! NEDIC’s 2016 EDAW poster announces “Eating disorders are as diverse as the people they affect,” with a helpline number @ 1-866-NEDIC-20. The website at nedic.ca is full of useful information, links, personal writing from survivors, and more.

NEDIC

Performance artists on stage shared accounts describing the long-term effect of trauma and the physical/psychic connection to the body, while others explored the thoughts of a sufferer of eating disorder from a poetic and philosophical angle. Candid discussions of things like anorexia and personal accounts of the difficulty anorexia sufferers experience once this potentially fatal illness has reached a certain point were emotionally powerful, as were a collection of spoken word pieces challenging the effect certain social attitudes have in perpetuating eating disorder.

The statistics around eating disorders were shocking to me. One of these is a statistic displaying recent evidence that up to 40% of 9 year old girls confirmed on surveys that they have dieted in the last year to lose weight, while another is the statistic that only one in ten individuals with a disorder are currently getting help. While eating disorders may be considered largely a female problem, there was ample literature at the event demonstrating that males also suffer from this serious mind/body disconnect, and that males are less likely to seek out support because of socially imposed definitions around “masculinity.”

Sheena’s Place, a support centre for people with eating disorders, has launched a special program to support dudes with this issue, as recent studies suggest 25% of eating disorder cases actually occur in young boys and men, while binge eating behaviour is actually fairly equally distributed. If you know anyone who might be struggling with this type of problem, check out NEDIC online. You might save a life. Valuable information for everyone, and thanks to EDAW, a wave of awareness has been created not only of the issues but with them a more powerful awareness that social change is a must.

About the Author

SK Dyment has been a cartoonist and illustrator for many years and has
been published in over two dozen Canadian indy magazines and journals. SK loves sketching passing interpretations of intriguing people in pen-and-ink, and is often seen attending various activist-oriented
events around Toronto. He is also available for quick illustrations of
all sorts as well as more serious forms of illustration. SK Dyment maintains a website @ www.graphicrecording.ca