On Tuesday I was asked to join an online webinar about Preventing Disordered Eating, Weight Stigma and Improving Mental Health in Schools.
iWeigh is all about radical inclusivity, so that no one feels alone. It aims to amplify and advocate the message that your image doesn’t define you! They encourage people from all shapes and sizes, religions, gender, backrounds and race to send in pictures covered in words which they think define them. Only 1 rule, the words can’t be image related!
I remember when the movement started and I thought it was amazing. I found it really empowering and insperational AF! It almost made me think “maybe I can recover & maybe people won’t judge me for what I look like?“
“I’m fucking tired of seeing women just ignore what’s amazing about them and their lives and their achievements, just because they don’t have a bloody thigh gap”Jameela Jamil @i_weigh
Other panelist’s included Athena Nair, a Tufts University student who has struggled with disordered eating her whole life. Cynthia M.Bulik , PHD & FAED, Lily O’Hara MPH & PHD and finally hosted by Joslyn Smith, Director of Public Policy & Community Relations and The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
The webinar was hosted by NEDA and co-hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, The International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians, iWeigh, in conjunction with the Congressional Mental Health Caucus.
The conference was focused around promoting healthy wellness in schools. It went into detail how disordered eating can commonly stem from school life. The interesting thing about it was they weren’t saying that schools should do regular BMI checks, focus physical education around ‘weight control’ etc. Instead, try to exacerbate weight stigma, dissatisfaction, disordered eating and eating disordered by avoiding negativity and negative phrasing.
Speaking to children in school they found that between 40-60% of children aged between 6 and 12 were self conscious of their weight and wanted to do something about it.One child said that when he hears adults talking about the need to prevent childhood obesity it makes him feel like we want to “eliminate” overweight children. Anther said that the school nurse told her she was obese according to her BMI results, so she asked her mother if she was “to fat to join in?”
The webinar enphisised that it’s important for the teachers to really be more carefully about how they aprouch the subject and the language they use.
For example, make physical education a fun topic, not a chore or the one you HAVE to do to keep fit. Respect each other and make it known to the children that it’s normal for everyone to come in different shapes and sizes. And finally, to try and bring in mindfulness into the national curriculum just a few times a week. To start teaching children and self love and mental health from a young age in order to destigmatise.
I think it’s great that this is being looked into. But is it a little too late?
The first time I remember being self-conscious and feeling fat, i must’ve been around 6 and that was in 1998. This picture to the left was taken at my ninth birthday party. I remember looking at this picture and hating it, thinking i looked so overweight. I was never an overweight child, just tall.
But, i do often look back now and wonder if i could of avoided an eating disorder all together if there wasn’t such a stigma around it and an issue with weight in schools.