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Walk to raise eating disorder awareness

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Awareness for eating disorders

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder adversely affect the health of millions of Americans. Experts estimate that more than 10 million women and one million men live with some disordered eating pattern. That's why the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) is holding its first national walk to raise awareness as well as funds to find the root causes and effective treatments for eating disorders. We asked one of the event's celebrity advocates, Melissa Archer, who plays Natalie Buchanan Banks on ABC's One Life to Live to give us the skinny on the NEDA Walks and the propensity for women to develop eating disorders.

Neda Walk

The First Annual NEDA Walks

The first annual NEDA Walk will will take place on Sunday, October 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at New York City's Riverside Park, but there are a number of other cities hosting their own NEDA Walks. Visit NationalEatingDisorders.org for more information and to find a walk near you.

One on one with soap opera actress Melissa Archer

Overcoming Hollywood pressure to be perfect

SheKnows.com: As an actress, there's a ton of pressure to stay thin or to have a "certain" body type. How have the pressures of Hollywood affected you?

Melissa Archer: Being an actress definitely puts pressure on you to look a certain way, but the key is finding a healthy way to look your best. I've learned how to develop a healthier lifestyle that keeps me fit, and I've come to accept who I am, not someone else's image of me.

SheKnows.com: Have you or someone you know ever suffered from an eating disorder? 

Melissa Archer: No, but I have experienced the pressures that society can put on us to have the "ideal" body type. This affects everyone, not just people who happen to be in the spotlight. That's why it's important to get involved in causes such as NEDA so we can spread awareness to combat these diseases.

Eating disorders are a silent disease

SheKnows.com: Why do you think so many people remain silent on the issue of eating disorders?

Melissa Archer: I believe people remain silent about eating disorders because they don't necessarily view them as diseases. Depending on which eating disorder they have, they could be in denial and believe they are in control of the situation. Eating disorders are not just about the physical body they're also about the mind.

Awareness can help boost body image

SheKnows.com: What compelled you to get involved with NEDA?

Melissa Archer: I've always had an interest in spreading awareness of eating disorders because they can be the most silent and deceiving of diseases. I feel as though the world we live in gives the message that only one type of body is okay and although eating disorders can come from trying to control a part of your life, the pressures of having to look perfect and have a perfect body can cause girls and boys alike to take drastic measures to reach that goal. Instead of fixating on numbers and false images, we should be looking at how we feel and if we're taking care of ourselves.

Time to talk and walk

SheKnows.com: Can you tell us a bit more about the first national walk to raise awareness about eating disorders?

Melissa Archer: We hope to raise awareness. The theme for the walk is, "It's time to TALK about it… Time to WALK about it." We want people to start talking about eating disorders. The walk will provide an outlet for that.

SheKnows.com: Where can people go for more information on the cause and how can people get involved?

Melissa Archer: You can visit NationalEatingDisorders.org to get more information about NEDA. You can also visit FirstGiving.com/NEDA to register for the walk in New York City or a walk near your city. I've started my own NEDA team and fundraising page and hope to raise $2,000. Help me reach my goal by going to FirstGiving.com/MelissaArcher. Thank you for your support!

Learn more about eating disorders

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