Your Comments, Your Questions: NEDIC Responds
The NEDIC team has been deeply affected by the comments in both criticism and support of our most recent awareness campaign ad. We recognize that the ad has stirred deep feelings and strong reactions from many of you.
In objection to the ad, some have said:
- It isolates older women struggling with eating disorders and perpetuates some of the eating disorder myths and stereotypes
- It trivializes and/or glamorizes the eating disorder experience
- It encourages the pro-ana, thinspiration culture
- It reinforces the idea that eating disorders are just about hunger
- It is more likely to harm than to help
In support of the ad, some have said:
- It does a good job of reaching out to young girls and connecting them to NEDIC for support
- It sparks public debate and creates an opportunity for further dialogue
- It makes parents stop and think about their children’s behavior
- It does have a call to action
We have heard your comments, and we take them seriously. We hear the hurt of many who responded to the ad on Facebook and Twitter and, for that, we are sincerely regretful. As our work over the past 28 years has demonstrated, we understand that eating disorders are complex and serious illnesses that are not about superficial concerns. As advocates for people struggling with an eating disorder—as survivors, as parents and friends of those struggling, and as concerned individuals—we take your comments seriously. As professionals deeply committed to debunking harmful stereotypes and myths about eating disorders, it was never our intention to perpetuate them. Our aim is only to encourage meaningful and positive dialogue.
Our plan with the campaign was to use limited space to catch the eye of those impacted by an eating disorder and invite them to connect with NEDIC—to view us as a better ‘friend’. In creating it, we consulted clinicians, recovered eating disorder sufferers, parents and young women for input. We had considered additional text—‘Better she talk to us than her demons’—but for space and clarity left it at, ‘Hunger is my BFF.’ The image was intended to be disturbing, by juxtaposing the hard-hitting word ‘hunger’ with an iconic doodle to provoke thought. Prior to launching, we posted the artwork in the hallway of an eating disorder treatment program and had no negative responses from the usually vocal group or their treatment providers.
We recognize that the ad’s message is challenging —and draws attention to the prevalence of eating disorders among young women specifically. This was intentional; other NEDIC awareness campaigns and prevention programs target other demographics and populations. The responses we’ve heard from individuals seeking information, support and referrals have suggested to us that this has been done to some positive effect. This is important to us. That said, we are committed to learning from our experiences and will consider the feedback from this campaign very carefully as we craft the next. We also strongly encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas about concepts and messages that could make for compelling awareness campaigns.
NEDIC remains committed to getting the word out that eating disorders are serious illnesses that affect individuals from all walks of life, and that recovery is possible. We hope that you will continue to join us on this journey.
To learn more about the work NEDIC does everyday, visit us online at www.nedic.ca or call us at 1-866-633-4220 (416-340-4156 in Toronto).