*Post and pictures by C. Y. Cooper.
The first time I heard of eating disorders, such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa, was when Singer Karen Carpenter of the group THE CARPENTERS passed away in 1983. Up until that time, I was unaware of the problem and I’m quite sure some my high school and college classmates suffered from these maladies. When a person (man, woman, boy or girl) suffers an eating disorder, there’s a strong desire to be thin and they see themselves as overweight when they are actually underweight. They tend to restrict their food intake causing damage to their general overall health and this behavior sometimes leads to death. Eating disorders are not just for the young/teenagers. Research has shown that eating disorders can follow a person into their adult life for decades.
THE ELISA PROJECT, founded in 1999 by Leslie and Rick McCall, has a mission that is dedicated to fighting eating disorders through education, support and advocacy. The McCalls started the THE ELISA PROJECT after losing their vibrant, beautiful 20 year old daughter, Elisa, who struggled with bulimia and depression. In her personal journal, found by her parents, after her death, Elisa, wrote in detail about the struggles she was going through during the last six (6) months of her life.
THE ELISA PROJECT recently held its 11th annual Life Lessons Event at the Belo Mansion in Dallas, Texas to raise funds for the ongoing work of the organization. Over 31,000 individuals across the United States are served annually by The Elisa Project’s educational, case management and advocacy programs.
The keynote speaker for the event was acclaimed author, filmmaker and speaker, Dr. Jean Kilbourne, who spoke on the topic: Falling in Love with Food: Connection & Disconnection in Food Advertising.
Dr. Kilbourne pointed out in her address the power of images portrayed in the media with current public health problems such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol addiction and violence against women.
For the past 15 years THE ELISA PROJECT has been diligent and focused in educating school aged students, parents, adults and professionals on the warning signs of eating disorders along with the importance of healthy nutrition and positive body image. Those interested in becoming involved with THE ELISA PROJECT can contact them at www.theelisaproject.org or call (214) 369-5222.