March 15 is the Eating Disorders Day, better known as Lilac Bow Day. A moment to reflect on a drama that involves millions of people of all ages, genders and social backgrounds in every corner of the world.
Lilac Bow Day against eating disorders, what is it
Established in 2012, the Day Against Eating Disorders serves to prevent, but also to make known the story of those who suffer from anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder… People for whom eating is often a nightmare, not a regular daily activity. Once upon a time it was thought that eating disorders only affected supermodels or girls who wanted to see themselves thinner to please others… Today, fortunately, there is greater awareness. We have come to understand that suffering from eating disorders is no joke, that it can happen at any age and for various reasons, that prevention and treatment are essential and that knowledge and support can save lives.
Lilac Bow Day was established in memory of a young woman. A girl of just 17 whose vitality has been extinguished forever by a “monster”, the bulimia. Her name was Julia Tavilla and died a short time before being admitted to a nursing facility for her ailment. An immense pain, which his father Stefano has transformed into solidarity with the association “I feed on life”.
“It cannot, it must not happen to others. My daughter’s death must serve all the people and families who are experiencing a tragedy of this kind. The drama of seeing who you love slowly shutting down, no longer laughing, eating or vomiting. He doesn’t agree to be treated and you are left with the feeling that you haven’t done enough. She didn’t make it, but there must be no more children dying when they could be saved.” These are his moving words, which explain better than anything else the importance of Lilac Bow Day. He words that cannot be forgotten, that must help, awaken consciences, agitate souls like any other social drama.
The Day of March 15 serves to inform, prevent, build networks of mutual aid and relief, to ensure that the general public knows and acts to avoid tragedies.
DCA, centers and tools to help
March 15, 2023 marks the 11th Lilac Bow Day against eating disorders. Yet, there are still so many problems to solve. The first? Many they do not know how to recognize or how to act in cases of eating disorders (personal or those of loved ones). And for those who are aware that they have a problem, finding adequate facilities is often difficult. With the isolation and the pandemic, the situation has worsened significantly and today more than ever we need to take advantage of the new tools offered by technology and social media to “unite” and not divide, create support networks and not abandon individuals to their own destiny.
There are many associations that deal with prevention and support. One of them is Lilla Bow Foundation, which offers support groups, information activities for families, schools and patients; offers legal and logistical support to those in need of treatment; collaborates with universities and institutions to combat eating disorders (and not only on March 15th).
In total, in Sicily there are 7 centers dedicated to the treatment of nutrition and eating disorders (ISS map, updated on 28 February). Seven centers out of 40 available in the South and Islands. A decidedly lower number, unfortunately, than in the North (63 centres) but higher than in the center (23). There are 112 public structures in Italy, 14 accredited private ones.
The shocking data that emerge from the statistics make it clear how important it is to act against eating disorders. More than 3 million people in Italy would suffer from it. 90% of them are women, but the number of men with DCA is constantly increasing. But the scariest factor is age: 6% are under 12 and over half (59%) are between 13 and 25. In addition, 48% of the cases taken on by care facilities concern minors up to 14 years of age.
“Eating and nutrition disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating (binge eating disorder), are unfortunately increasingly common, affect increasingly younger segments of the population and, if not diagnosed and treated early, they tend to become chronic with serious effects on the whole organism, sometimes even lethal”, says Simona Pichini, acting manager of the ISS National Center for Addiction and Doping.
Need one total and constant caremade up not only of adequate nutrition but also of psychological support, love, understanding and patience.
Myths about eating disorders
The greatest evil in relation to the fight against DCA? The misinformation. There are many i false myths which still continue to circulate, causing damage to those who instead try to put an end to the drama. Here are some:
- Eating disorders are a choice: nothing more false. Those who find themselves living with anorexia and bulimia often do not choose and are in a situation where they cannot independently control their reaction to food.
- The problem is only physical: wrong. DCAs have a strong emotional component and destroy not only health and body, but also mind and soul.
- It only affects women: although 90% of people suffering from DCA are female, the number of boys and men who – more or less consciously – suffer from it is always higher. The phenomenon also often affects sportsmen.
- Just look at the physical appearance to realize if a person suffers from eating disorders: This is also a myth. A person can suffer from anorexia while maintaining a normal weight (especially in the beginning) and a person with binge eating disorder and/or bulimia is not necessarily overweight. Underweight and overweight can be indicators, but not the only ones.
- It heals when you return to a normal weight: The fight against an eating disorder is often lifelong. Healing is a long and often non-linear physical and psychological process. Returning to a regular weight and diet is a first step, not the finish line.
Day of the Lilac Bow, films and documentaries on eating disorders
On the occasion of the Lilac Bow Day 2023, here is a list of films and documentaries themed DCA to propose or to watch to find out about the theme:
- Girls Interrupted: a 2000s classic starring a young Angelina Jolie, set in a 1960s mental institution.
- Fino all’Osso – To the bone: also available on Netflix, it tells the story of Ellen, suffering from anorexia nervosa and hospitalized in a structure by the will of her parents.
- My best friend (When Friendship Kills): Nineties film harder to find online that tells the story of Lexi and Jennifer, friends with a terrible secret. Anorexia. A drama experienced moment by moment, from the first drastic diets to hospitalizations, with twists and turns and tragic moments.
- Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated: documentary that tells the true story of former Disney superstar Demi Lovato, who was hospitalized in the past for both eating disorders and alcohol and drug problems. Rich in appeals against body shaming but also in invitations to love and appreciate one’s body – imperfections included -, to get to know each other better and to live with a new self-image after eating disorders.
- The Best Little Girl in the World: Eighties classic, which chronicles the life of 17-year-old Casey Powell and her struggle with anorexia and bulimia.
- For the love of Nancy: Film based on the real life of Tracey Gold, child actress almost killed by anorexia, associated among other things with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Abzurdah: Argentine drama starring Cielo Latini, now a writer, overwhelmed by anorexia nervosa and a decidedly toxic love story.
- thin inspiration (or also Starving in Suburbia): an emotional, raw, shocking, almost terrifying story. A psychological drama that is almost disturbing at times, which sheds light on the emotional aspect of eating disorders and their rapid evolution. It tells the story of Hannah, a dancer who fell into the “trap” of the pro-ana forums on Tumblr, but also of her athlete brother Leo, who ended up in the same dramatic world as her sister.
Photo by Vidmir Raic from Pixabay