I was born in 1990, so I grew up at a time when people were counting calories, going to Weight Watchers, avoiding forbidden foods, and seeing extremely thin women on fashion runways and in magazines. I also grew up on film sets, and was told at a very young age that I needed to take care of my appearance, in other words, watch my weight. At one point, someone said to me, “You’ll have to watch that little belly of yours when you get a bit older.” I quickly developed a troubled relationship with food and was always struggling to be thin. When I was in high school, I was obsessed with my weight and figure, and so were all my friends. That was considered “normal” at the time. The Québec Health Survey of High School Students, 2010-2011 found that 71% of young people try to control their weight, and that 2/3 of students trying to maintain their weight or slim down use unhealthy methods, like skipping meals or going on extreme diets. I certainly did that, and some of my friends did, too. We’d skip meals, eat only vegetables, or get through the day on nothing but water. When I look back, I think I’m “lucky” that I didn’t develop an eating order, because that’s often how it starts, and no one is immune. When I got older, I had to reclaim my body and learn to love myself the way I am. But I wonder how things would’ve been, if someone had talked to me about eating disorders when I was younger, if someone had taught me about mental health and self-esteem in school… The Sock it to Eating Disorders campaign is an ideal opportunity to start talking about mental health, to break the taboos around eating disorders, tell young people about the services that can help them, show them that they can make a difference, and teach them about standing together and getting involved in the community. We’ve visited a few schools with the Sock it to Eating Disorders campaign, and believe me, it’s very moving to see. There are an estimated 65,000 women and girls in Québec suffering from eating disorders. And that number is much higher when you add the men and boys. In the past year alone, 17,000 people have reached out to ANEB for help.
Help us help our youths and join the Sock it to eating disorders movement!
Catherine Brunet, ANEB spokesperson
Photo credit : Eva-Maude TC
Anorexia and Bulimia Québec is committed to a cause that I personally find vital. The message ANEB works to convey is very relevant; its initiatives are essential; and the help it offers those who call on its services is immeasurable. Today, when society places so much emphasis on body image, young people are vulnerable: they’re very likely to compare themselves with others; they may become obsessed, and ultimately develop an eating disorder. The Sock it to Eating Disorders campaign is aimed at educating young people and even parents about eating disorders. The movement is urging people to talk about this mental health issue; it’s developing awareness, providing support, and demystifying this scourge, which can ruin lives. No one is immune. I’ve gone to a few schools now that have joined the movement toward a world without judgment and taboos, a world that promotes body diversity and self-acceptance, and I believe that everyone should follow suit. It’s easy, it’s fun, and young people love to get involved in innovative ways. We can do this. Together, we can go farther.
Félix-Antoine Tremblay, ANEB spokesperson