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June 2, 2021

Take the Oath for Equity and Compassion in Eating Disorder Treatment

Written by Dr. Gia Marson

Speak out against the diet mentality and weight bias, and speak up for equity in diagnosis and treatment across the full spectrum of disordered eating

You don’t have to have an eating disorder or know someone one who does—and you don’t have to become an expert in disordered eating, the diet mentality, or weight discrimination—to be an agent of change. You can make a difference.

To bring about the needed change in equity, first tap into your innate compassion. Then join that kindness with informed action. It is incumbent upon each of us to confront the disparity that exists for members of certain groups when it comes to receiving an eating disorder diagnosis and being referred to eating disorder treatment.

“Our blunders become their burdens, But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright” – Amanda Gorman

The myth that eating disorders affect mostly “skinny, white, affluent girls” persists, in spite of mounds of data. Regrettably, this SWAG stereotype means that people of higher weights, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and males receive disproportionately less care.

This troubling equity issue also stems from internalizing the myth. For example, a 2017 large-scale study asked college students with symptoms of eating disorders about their experiences with issues related to eating and body image. Males were less likely to perceive a need for treatment than females, and participants from affluent backgrounds were more likely to think they needed treatment and to have received treatment than their less-affluent peers.

“For there is always light, If only we’re brave enough to see it, If only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman

All change starts with acceptance. You can make a difference by facing what’s happening. Get the facts. See the disparities. Acknowledge the biopsychosocial factors and the complexity when it comes to problems with eating and recovery from eating disorders. Then, change how you think, what you say, and how you act. Gently but firmly hold others accountable too.

Just one of these simple actions may help save a life—the raw truth is that eating disorders are among the most lethal of all mental illnesses.

If you are willing to champion fairness and speak up against stigma when it comes to eating and body image, start by taking this oath today, and share it with like-minded others.

The Oath for Equity and Compassion
in Eating Disorder Treatment

To promote equity, I commit to…

Advocate for access, because every person deserves to fully recover.
Promote social justice by demanding improved clinician training, inclusive research, culturally relevant prevention, and evidence-based treatments that better serve BIPOC communities.
Support the body-positivity movement, because everyone should be encouraged to have a positive connection with their own body.
Spread awareness, because eating disorders impact all races, genders, sexual orientations, and ages.
Reject the concept that there is only one ideal body type.

To increase support, I commit to…

Uphold intuitive eating principles by not dieting, fasting, doing cleanses, or participating in unrealistic fitness challenges.
Offer compassion, because no one deserves to have an eating disorder.
Stay humble, because families are not the cause of eating disorders.
Be aware, because intervention can be the difference between life and death.
Be present, so that no one has to feel alone

To decrease stigma, I commit to…

Accept that health cannot be measured by BMI or a number on a scale.
Embrace diversity by not judging how much other people eat, weigh, or work out.
Be honest by checking in with myself about my own biases.
Learn about the many factors that influence developing an eating disorder.
Be kind, because no one should feel criticized for a health problem.

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