Before you read this post, I would like you to remember that this occurred in 2013 and it was an isolated incident. I have spent the better part of the last year in contact and working with NEDA on making this year’s Seattle Walk and all walks better. Our Walk in Seattle this year will be awesome!
Yesterday I participated in this year’s Seattle National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Walk. This year’s Walk was different from previous Walks and, sadly, mostly in not very good ways. The Walk this year featured a group called Vulure Couture.
Vulure is a bathing suit company that specializes in bathing suits for small-chested women. The entire group showed up in their line of bikinis, which ranged from fashionable to scantly and sexy. To add to the awkwardness, their documentary photographers and videographers were also present to capture the day. This company had recently completed or is in the process of completing a documentary about two women wearing bikinis for 30-days for Eating Disorder awareness.
The Vulure group and a local nutrition counseling office group partnering with them made the Walk a spectacle and a condoned one at that. The Walk coordinator on the board of NEDA mentioned the company and the swim line as if it were an advertisement. This is not far-fetched though seeing how all three had been partnering together prior to the Walk even appearing on a radio talk show. Each seemed to have an advertisement and an agenda and this Walk was their stage. They even held up the entire Walk start time to be able to do it.
The overall feelings within myself and amongst my group and family was awkward and upsetting. The Walk is relatively ‘safe’ environment where there are not triggers around. Walk coordinators usually make sure the atmosphere allows for this type of environment as well as those people who attend this type of event. We are all pretty well-aware that at eating disorder gatherings certain behaviors, clothing, talk, etc. should be avoided. These two groups apparently did not receive the memo nor did the NEDA board member. The bikini attire, especially the scantly, sexy nature of the bikinis was triggering and a spectacle. At this type of event it is completely inappropriate. Many of the Walk participants are still struggling with either behaviors and/or body image and to be bombarded at what should be a safer event is unacceptable. This is not the time or the place to be promoting your company/business, swimsuits, or bodies.
I hope that there are others that were at the Seattle NEDA Walk that speak up if they felt the same.
Regardless of this happening at the Seattle Walk this year, I had a really good time. The Walk is not about commercial crap, bodies, triggers, who raises the most (though my competitive demon would say otherwise..), the entertainment, etc. The Walk is about coming together for a cause, raising awareness, and raising funds. It is spending time with those you love and that love you for the morning or afternoon and enjoying their company. Sometimes you have not seen these people in such a long time! That is what it is about. Everything else, whatever. We do not even have to literally walk.