National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023 (NEDA Week 2023) takes place from February 20 to February 26. It is a wake-up call to highlight and address the pressing issues and concerns that many youths experience and struggle with on a day-to-day basis. “Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.” Just like mental health, although the signs and symptoms of Eating Disorders may not be prevalent, they are definitely there.
Table of Contents:
- What is National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week
- What are the Types of Eating Disorders?
- What are the Possible Triggers of Eating Disorders?
- National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023 Artworks
- How to Help People With Eating Disorders
What is National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) week?
National Eating Disorders Awareness week or NEDA week is an annual campaign that seeks to educate the public about the various forms of eating disorders, as well as the harsh realities and consequences of Eating disorders. This is in the hopes that the general public will be more enlightened, recognise the symptoms as well as provide hope and support for those suffering in silence.
What are the types of Eating Disorders?
There are 4 main types of Eating Disorders, namely:
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Bulimia Nervosa
- Binge Eating
- Orthorexia Nervosa
Anorexia Nervosa involves partial or total abstinence from food (solids or liquids) because they believe any amount of food will cause weight gain. An anorexic often perceives himself or herself as ‘fat’ and has an intense fear of gaining weight. This is reflected in an unhealthy preoccupation with food and exercise and sometimes purging through self-induced vomiting and laxative abuse.
Bulimia Nervosa is often associated with binge-eating Disorder as a bulimic is continually engaged in a cycle of bingeing and purging. Bingeing is characterised by the consumption of a large amount of food (in comparison to what the individual consumes typically) in a short period and is frequently emotionally induced. Purging arises from the guilt of overeating and involves self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse, excessive exercising and extreme fasting.
Binge-eating Disorder involves bingeing excessively with periods of uncontrolled, impulsive and continuous eating to the point of being uncomfortably full, with no compensatory behaviour (purging) after. Bingeing is usually triggered by an emotional event that causes the individual to turn to food as a means of comfort, the aftermath of which often results in guilt and self-loathing.
Orthorexia Nervosa is a relatively lesser-known eating disorder involving extreme exercise and obsession with eating what is perceived as ‘healthy’ foods. They reject any food perceived as unhealthy such as food with oil, butter, carbohydrates etc.
Sometimes orthorexics eliminate such a large number of foods from their diet that they become emaciated, which results in anorexia orthorexia. However, anorexia and orthorexia are different illnesses that arise from different intentions with anorexics usually seeking to lose weight whereas orthorexics typically seek to attain pure, clean and healthy bodies.
Find out more about Eating Disorders at: https://www.aware.org.sg/information/eating-disorders/
What are the possible triggers of Eating Disorders (based off first-hand experience) ?
There are many triggers of Eating Disorders, but the main bulk of them comes from comments and remarks made by those close to you. The comments include:
- Did you gain weight?
- You are eating more today/recently!
- You look healthier/better
- You don’t look like you have an Eating Disorder
- He/She looks smaller/skinnier than you
- You are slim
- You managed to finish your food!
Upon knowing the common triggers, please THINK and Choose your words wisely. Please avoid those remarks and statements, as they can be especially hurtful and detrimental to the mental health of those suffering from Eating Disorders.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023 Artworks (Artworks that Convey the Mental Struggles of Eating Disorders)
The 7 penknives and 7 pencils (coloured) represent the 7 days in a week. For any particular day of the week, each and every one of us has a choice.
Dye the canvas in black or Dye it with Colours.Artist Celine Chia, 2020
Pick up a penknife or Pick up a pencil.
Self-Harm or Self-Love.
The choice is yours.
This provocative work of art showcases the juxtaposition between clarity and insanity. One can easily swing either way on any fine day, like a pendulum. This piece of work invokes a series of turmoil alongside a hard dose of reality.
This masterpiece is also another analogy representing the seven stages of grief –
- Shock and Denial
- Pain and Guilt
- Anger and Bargaining
- The Upward Turn
- Acceptance and Hope
Art is our therapy, our beauty, and our solace. The only way is up when you’ve hit rock bottom, and art is our lifeline. This piece was Artist Celine Chia’s turning point when she was at a crossroads in her life.
This artwork was titled as such due to the fact that there is no brand, no hate or love towards the product. It shows that when we are stripped down to the core, we are just the empty essence of the human soul.
This perfume represents an analogy of human nature underneath our statuses, our brands and the mask we put on to hide our true nature. Slap on a brand (e.g. Chanel), and our worth will increase.
The soft bluish and pinkish hue (background) represents the circumstances that influence us in more ways than one. This harmonious blend of colours further emphasises the fragility and purity of the human shell, just like the seemingly empty container of the perfume.
Though intangible, we are all products of our thoughts and feelings.
Emotions at an atomic level are just chemical bonds and reactions, just like the fragrances in the perfume.
Ultimately, there is no love. There is no hate. There is only indifference.
The portrait was drawn to depict the foul essence inside each and every human.
As the saying goes, “do not judge a book by its cover.”
Although we may be brimming with delight on the outside, all of us are, in some ways, rotten at our core.
The above statement is the analogy behind the artwork, whereby the fruit drawn was a rotten one (core) instead of fresh. (Delightful abundance on the surface)
In our case, we suffered from Eating Disorders, and it was gnawing and eating us from the inside out. On the surface, we may look typical and ideal even, but at our core, we’re definitely not.
The colours used are dull, depicting that every day is mundane. Life is just a numbers game, and it’s about the number of calories of the food we consume. It is as if every bite of the apple translates to the number (on the weighing scale) the next day.
Even though the apple is half-eaten, it is also not entirely eaten. The rationale is due to the phobia of finishing the food, which has become a daily habit. The smudged area surrounding the apple’s core showcases that we radiate negativity and are easily influenced and triggered by our surroundings.
All the harmful and toxic remarks and comments can and will hurt us in more ways than one.
Some people see food as a source of sustainability, some view food as a delicacy, and some perceive it as a necessity. For Artist Celine Chia, she sees it as a mesh of colours.
Perhaps it was because she has always felt that she was a little different from others. Maybe a little eccentric from her years of Eating Disorder.
She has gained a different perspective and insight into the realm of food. Food reminds her of a colour palette, a beautiful concoction of stir-fried ingredients in a sizzling wok, with the end product as a form of gastronomic art.
Art makes her appreciate the beautiful sensations a chef prepares, with the ingredients as food for the human soul.
She gained a deeper understanding of the hidden layers (the extra mile that the chef puts in to serve his diners) that makes the food taste profoundly better.
This acute mixture of colours gives a further gradation that adds a particular hint of realism onto an otherwise blank canvas.
We are all slaves to our thirst—the thirst for hunger, the thirst for food and the thirst for perfection.
How To Help People With Eating Disorders
- DO NOT comment about one’s size/weight, especially if they have an Eating Disorder.
- Treat someone who has had an Eating Disorder like a NORMAL PERSON. Ask them out even if they may avoid meals.
- Avoid assuming that they will not join you for meals. (They may not mind accompanying others)
- Comments such as “I guess you will not be eating/ I don’t think you will want to eat” will make them feel that they don’t deserve to be normal and eat normally.
- DO NOT compare.
- If you’re suffering/if you know of someone suffering from Eating Disorders, feel free to join us for a fruitful and enriching art jamming session as a form of art therapy. Art was our getaway and helped us through many tough patches.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2023 seeks to highlight and bring out the Eating Disorders faced by many, especially among youths. To raise awareness for this cause, our artists have also showcased their works of art, as well as the hidden meanings behind their works. If you’re suffering or know of others experiencing Eating Disorders, please know that you are not alone. Reach out. We are here for you. Art is here for you.