The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) is one of the world’s largest nonprofit organizations that provides assistance and education to individuals (both women and men), and their family members who are affected by eating disorders. NEDA also ensures their focus is on the presentation of these disorders and helping those diagnosed find quality care. Needless to say, NEDA helps millions of individuals through various means. This organization produces articles, blog posts, hosts walks and spreads awareness. This week NEDA is launching a new campaign. This online campaign is “Weight Stigma Awareness Week.”

I’ve discussed the unattainable ideal body image many times. Of course, it is because this body type, and emphasis on a certain weight, is so prevalent in our society. In fact, through society’s use of the media, we see this body type plastered on everything; from television shows and movies to runways, billboards, and advertisements, to social media platforms such as Instagram. We live in a society that tells women we have to look a certain way, and once we do, wow, we’re beautiful and successful. This concept of thinness equating to beauty and success births weight stigma and discrimination.

Weight stigma and discrimination are essentially this: forming stereotypes and discriminating against an individual because of her or his weight. Essentially, weight stigma tends to target obese individuals, as others assume they are simply lazy. Those who experience weight stigma and discrimination are shamed, blamed, judged, and ignored by some medical practitioners. These victims can possibly receive cruel messages (comments on their body size and shape), are constantly given advice on what actions to take to change their body size and shape (this is commonly referred to as “concern trolling”), and they develop dissatisfaction for their bodies.

Weight stigma is increasingly dangerous and can lead to a variety of disorders such as binge eating disorders and other eating disorders. Those who experience weight stigma are also more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

It is important to note that those previously diagnosed with eating disorders can also experience weight stigma. Family members, friends, and strangers can comment negatively on the body size and shape of an individual with an eating disorder. This potentially makes their disorder worse and/or delays recovery. In fact, this is very common for women with bulimia. This is because society has developed the notion that an eating disorder is a one size fits all disorder. Everyone looks the same; extremely thin and mainly white. However, that isn’t the case.

So, weight stigma is present within the eating disorder community regardless of what eating disorder individuals may have. NEDA strives to educate and bring awareness to weight stigma and the fact that it affects everyone no matter size, shape, color, or gender. NEDA has merged forces with the Binge Eating Disorders Association (BEDA) with a desire to tell those with an eating disorder that they are welcome and seen. In addition, all individuals are encouraged to tell their personal stories within a safe space. That is the NEDA/BEDA community.

Those who are familiar with BEDA know that this community has hosted weight stigma campaigns in the past. Now, NEDA is carrying on the tradition. This campaign will answer questions about weight stigma, publish blog posts from individuals who experience weight stigma, and share many more useful tools.

Weight Stigma Awareness Week is this week: September 23rd- September 27th.