Yesterday I made the first of what I hope will be many presentations to middle school staff--at my younger daughter's middle school, because that seemed like a good place to start. I'd put together a PowerPoint on 6 things I wanted them to know about eating disorders and 8 ways they could help.
The group was smaller than I'd hoped for, but they were really engaged. These are people who do truly care about the lives of kids. I was very heartened by that. Like doctors, they don't get any special training in eating disorders, and they're often frustrated and frightened by what they see.
I was also heartened by a conversation we got into on the "wellness" curricula--the same cockamamie stuff that bans syrup from elementary school lunchrooms and forbids a second slice of pizza to 4th-graders. One of the messages I tried to convey was how the increasing and heavy-handed emphasis on "eating healthy" and the war on obesity as played out in the schools was likely to trigger more eating disorders. It certainly sends a screwed-up message to kids and disrupts their lifelong relationship with food and eating. I'd braced myself for pushback along the lines of "Well kids are unhealthy and it's our job to help them learn to control themselves!" Instead, I got lots of nodding heads and comments about how worried they, teachers and staff, are about the shrill curriculum.
That made me feel good. There is room to broach these subjects, in public, and to begin a dialogue on them. Nothing changes if we just sit at home bitterly blogging about this stuff. We've got to get out in the real world, say our piece, and talk about it.