Summer has arrived in quite dramatic fashion and I spent that first balmy weekend in Napa. It wasn't the customary wine-tasting, cheese-nibbling weekend one would expect to spend in the Napa Valley. I was there to attend the Napa NEDA Walk.
NEDA is the National Eating Disorders Association. This walk was organized in hopes of raising awareness of this deadly disease. Yes, it is a disease not a choice.
The event kicked off with some speakers. The first speaker shared her story of her battle with anorexia and bulimia. Her story has a happy ending. She is fully recovered from her eating disorder.
The next two speakers were quite different – a mother shared the story of her daughter's tragic death from bulimia – one year into her disease. A brother, for the first time, spoke publicly about his sister's death from anorexia.
As I listened, I shared their tears. Their stories are a sad reminder that this disease kills. It doesn't care about age, race or social status.
I was accompanied to this Napa weekend by some of the mothers from the support group. We all realized how much needs to be done to change society's view of body image. We need to stop the destructive spiral that to be happy, you need to be thin and to help individuals see that those images in magazines we try to emulate are not real.
What are we going to do? I am not sure. Amid eggs, hash browns and coffee at Country Waffles we will light what I hope to be a huge explosion of ideas. We will work towards continuing to raise awareness of what this disease is capable of doing. We will encourage families to step out behind their wall of shame. We will formulate a plan and move forward. Our voices will be heard.
What will you do?