The week of Feb. 24, National Eating Disorder Week, organizations and campaigns across the country hosted events to raise awareness about the issue. Corazon Tierra from New York is one of these advocates. Tierra started a campaign called “No Te Hagas Pequeña”, or “Don’t Make Yourself Small”, that seeks to raise awareness in the Latino community about eating disorders, and encouraging treating one’s body with respect. Tierra says that a lot of studies, for many disorders, are biased towards a certain type of woman: white and upper class.
“When we talk about eating disorders within North American society, these studies have often been conducted on white, upper class women. So for a long time—like other health issues—they’ve only been observing communities with a high social capital. It’s also hard to measure eating disorder statistics since there are cultural factors that influence the [diagnosis of] the disorder.”
In fact, Tierra thinks that the Latino population in the U. S. is more susceptible to eating disorders, considering the standard of beauty is currently harder for Latino’s to achieve.
“We have a society, in which beauty is a white woman, so including me in Puerto Rico, being a Latina, I didn’t think I was beautiful. It’s in a part of your subconscious. You think I can’t change the color of my skin or hair, but I can control my weight. Conforming to the obsession of the ideal body, then, is the logical solution. And that solution made me suffer, a lot,” said Tierra.
Tierra says that there’s a lack of education, given the minimal amount of resources available, in many Latino families about eating disorders. Many Latinos may have eating disorders but don’t know they have them, and so don’t report them. Tierra, for example, had never heard of the word anorexia, much less ever considered she will have an eating problem, until she went to the U. S. for college.
“The first symptom was when I was 8 years old—my mother was always on a diet, so when I was a girl I did it too. I needed to control what was happening in my life, and the way I learned how to do that was by trying to control my body and to eliminate whatever I considered to be fat. What saved me was that I always had the dream of being a dancer and expressing my body, but I couldn’t do that because I paid too much attention to my body and who was looking at me. My passion for dancing made me look for a way to liberate myself from this obsession.”
According to Tierra, society has torn the sweet harmony between body and soul that should exist. In her personal experience, she found that the creative process—dancing, writing, or painting, for example—is the best way to try to repair this tear and resume corporeal harmony.
For more information on the campaign, visit: www.notehagaspequena.com.
This post is also available in: Spanish