Bullying is a major contributor to eating disorders: 65% say that it factored into their struggle. Worryingly, that number, from a 2011 report, is up 41% from a survey done just two years earlier.
There’s some speculation that online bullying has contributed to the rise in bullying as a trigger of eating disorders. Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if the increased attention to bullying as a problem in schools also contributed to the percentage of people who could identify bullying as something they were experiencing.
Either way, bullying and the harm that it can do have become major topics of conversation in the past decade. Schools are providing more in-depth programs to teachers and students about what bullying looks like, what it can do, and how to identify and address it.
Celebrities like Brittany Snow and Demi Lovato have opened up about how bullying contributed to their own body image and eating issues. Snow went on to create the Love is Louder project, an organization that helps to support anyone who feels like an outsider.
Keep in mind, though, that bullying isn’t always something that’s obvious, or even something that’s necessarily done maliciously. For instance, snarking on other people’s appearance is something we’ve all done. While it can seem like a fun, harmless way to bond with friends, it can actually hurt – and not just the person you’re being mean about.
Bodysnarking creates a culture where anybody – or any body – is subject to criticism. Think about those awful magazine spreads that will call out an actress for being “scary skinny” one week and for “letting herself go” by getting “fat” the next. By being snarky, we’re contributing to that kind of awfulness. Not cool, huh?
For more info on the impact of bodysnarking on the red carpet, check out this video.
Not sure if you’re guilty of bodysnarking? Take the quiz.
You can learn more about bullying and its impact on disordered eating at Proud2BMe.
If you’ve been reading my posts this week, you know you can join the conversation about eating disorders this week by using the Twitter hashtag #NEDAwareness all week. Today at 1pm Eastern Time, join a special Tweet Chat, Youth Creating Change: Body Positivity and ED Advocacy, featuring spokespeople from Proud2BMe, Her Campus, and Active Minds.
Unfortunately, for some kids, body and weight-based bullying happens on the sports field. If you’re a coach or trainer, check out NEDA’s coach and trainer toolkit, or the shorter list of tips for coaches and trainers.
If you’re a parent concerned that bullying may be affecting your child’s body image or eating habits, take a look at NEDA’s toolkit for parents or Rochester Children’s Hospital’s information for parents.
If you’re an educator, you’ve probably learned a lot about bullying in the past few years, but if you want to learn more about its effects, particularly eating disorders, check out Rochester’s children’s hospital’s information on eating disorders for educators, and NEDA’s educator toolkit.
If you’re concerned about your own thoughts or behaviors related to food and weight, take an online self-assessment (you can also take it for someone you’re worried about), or find a screening location near you (in the US).