Come as you are: Increasing Awareness That Eating Disorders Affect Marginalized Individuals

Group of people ready for the NEDA Come As You Are: Marginalized People

Eating disorders (EDs) have historically been associated with straight, cisgender, young, thin (or restrictive type EDs), able-bodied, affluent, white females.

However, in reality, EDs affect people of all sexual orientations, genders, ages, body sizes and abilities, races, ethnicities, cultures, religions, and socioeconomic statuses.

It is also important to note that EDs come in various forms, including restrictive, binge, and purge types. They are not caused by any single factor. Instead, they arise from an interaction of biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and sociocultural factors.

EDs have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. Those suffering from EDs are at increased risk of developing medical complications from binge eating, purging, starvation, and over-exercise. Suicide is also common among individuals suffering from EDs.

Marginalized People and EDs ImageMisconceptions about who EDs affect have real and severe consequences, including overlooked diagnoses, limited treatment options, and fewer pathways to help for those who don’t fit the stereotype.

Here’s the thing, EDs don’t discriminate. Not only is it is important to make sure everyone has access to help and support, when it comes to EDs, one’s experience should be understood within the context of their intersectional identity.

The National Eating Disorder Association’s (NEDA) 2019 National Eating Disorder Awareness Week theme is Come as You Are. This theme highlights NEDA’s movement towards inclusivity in the greater ED community and their goal of unifying the field of eating disorders.

My take away from Come as You Are is this: Regardless of your intersectional identity, your story is valid. You have the right to be heard and the right to ED treatment and recovery.

NEDA invites everyone, especially those whose voices are marginalized, to have the opportunity to speak out, share their experiences, and connect with others. Learn more and get involved with “Come As You Are,” NEDAwareness Week here.


1. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Retrieved on Feb 25, 2019, at
2. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Learn: Identity and Eating Disorders. Retrieved on Feb 25, 2019, at
3. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Marginalized Voices. Retrieved on Feb 25, 2019, at
4. National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA). Learn: What are eating disorders? Busting the myths about eating disorders. Retrieved on Feb 25, 2019, at

About the Author:

Chelsea Fielder-JenksChelsea Fielder-Jenks, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in Austin, Texas. Chelsea works with individuals, families, and groups primarily from a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) framework.

She has extensive experience working with adolescents, families, and adults who struggle with eating, substance use, and various co-occurring mental health disorders. You can learn more about Chelsea and her private practice at

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on February 25, 2019.
Reviewed & Approved on February 25, 2019, by Jacquelyn Ekern MS, LPC

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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He is responsible for the operations of Eating Disorder Hope and ensuring that the website is functioning smoothly.