“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
― Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Throughout March, Women’s History Month provides an annual opportunity to celebrate the myriad of ways in which women have made an impact on our world. Within the world of eating disorder treatment, women have much to celebrate in terms of their accomplishments.
As with so many fields, the field of eating disorder research, diagnosis, treatment and recovery was historically dominated by white male leaders. For decades, the preponderance of faces one would see when spotlighting innovators in the field would be those of older white male clinicians. The field still has a long way to go in embodying equality at the highest levels of leadership – in terms of gender, race, and so much more. However, the community of eating disorder treatment is filled with countless talented, courageous, whip-smart, innovative women who are changing the field for the better, each and every day.
At Reasons, we seek to embody a more diverse, representative team, and to challenge the stereotypes around not only treats eating disorders, but who gets them. With that intention in mind, we want to celebrate several of the accomplishments of women who are leading the fight for equitable and effective eating disorder treatment for all:
Raising Awareness on Eating Disorders Among Black Women:
Charlynn Small, PhD, CEDS-S
Mazella Fuller, PhD, MSW, LCSW, CEDS-S
Editors of Treating Black Women with Eating Disorders: A Clinician’s Guide, 1st Edition
With the publication of this book last year, Dr.’s Fuller and Small have put together a comprehensive volume full of tools for assessing, diagnosing, and treating disordered eating in Black women. Covering a range of topics such as the impact of racism, discrimination, trauma, and acculturative stress on the development of eating disorders, this groundbreaking book shines a long overdue light on the struggles of Black women to find culturally sensitive care, and offers a roadmap to empower clinicians to provide it.
Transgender Voices for Public Health in the White House:
Dr. Rachel Levine, MD
Nominee for US Assistant Secretary of Health
You may have heard of Dr. Levine, after all she has been in the news as President Biden’s nominee for Assistant Health Secretary. In fact, Dr. Levine just became the first openly transgender, Senate-confirmed federal official in US History. But did you know that prior to this, and prior to being the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health, she founded the Penn State Hershey Eating Disorders Program? She is also a pediatrician, professor of psychiatry, and an accomplished speaker and writer on the topics of eating disorders, transgender health, and the opioid crisis. We celebrate not only the history- making impact of her appointment, but look forward to seeing what her expertise can bring to the arena of awareness and advocacy for eating disorder care on a national scale.
Decolonizing Eating Disorder Treatment and Amplifying Melanated Voices
Jessica Wilson, MS, RD
In 2020, Jessica co-created the social media initiative #amplifymelanatedvoices and it went viral as people joined the challenge to listen to and promote the advocacy and social justice work of BIPOC. Jessica also started the My Black Body podcast with Rawiyah Tariq focused on decolonizing narratives and centering Black voices, and she was part of a panel discussion hosted by our own local iaedp chapter here in Los Angeles, titled “The Intersection of Racism and Weight Stigma: Where do we go from here?” at the end of 2020. Jessica’s work with eating disorders challenges existing models and structures and engages folks in the essential work of radical conversations about body liberation and body justice.
Spearheading the Intuitive Eating Movement:
Elyse Resch, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S, FIAEDP, FADA, FAND and Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN, CEDRD-S
Authors of Intuitive Eating, A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach
First published in 1995, with a 4th edition released last year, Intuitive Eating is not “just a book.” Its ten core principles are a beacon of eating disorder recovery. Consumers, coaches, outpatient therapists and dietitians, and treatment programs around the world leverage Intuitive Eating and its accompanying workbook to guide people in their journeys to make peace with food. Evelyn and Elise created not just a series of recommendations, but a movement. With their Intuitive Eating counseling certification going strong, they continue to spread the word to this day!
Prolific Author and Expert in Eating Disorders Among Older Adults:
Margo Maine, PhD
Clinical Psychologist, Eating Disorder Specialist, and Author
Dr. Margo Maine is the author of Pursuing Perfection: Eating Disorders, Body Myths, and Women at Midlife and Beyond; Treatment of Eating Disorders: Bridging the Research- Practice Gap; Effective Clinical Practice in the Treatment of Eating Disorders; The Body Myth; Father Hunger; and Body Wars; and Senior Editor Emeritus of Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention. Having been practicing in the field for over 35 years, and recognized as one of the premier experts in eating disorders among women during middle-age and later years, we are proud to be in community with her and thrilled to celebrate her contributions to the field.
Reasons Female Founders and Visionaries:
Nikki Rollo, PhD, LMFT, CEDS-S
Ashley Bullock, AMFT
Lisa Arroyas, RD, CEDRD-S
Alyson Lischer, LMFT, CEDS-S
Otherwise known here at Reasons as the Fantastic Four, Nikki, Ashley, Lisa and Aly are the ones who deserve the credit for shaping our program to be what it is today. From creating our program’s name, to developing our clinical and dietary philosophies, to serving as the faces and voices that our patients and professional partners know and trust, these four women poured their hearts into realizing their vision for eating disorder treatment. Three of the Fantastic Four remain on our leadership team today, and Reasons still works with Aly from the “other side” now that she has a thriving private practice in San Diego. Cheers to our founders!
As Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s quote so eloquently illustrates, fighting for what you believe in is important; but it is all the more powerful when you can inspire others to join you. Each of the women we’ve spotlighted has not only fought for her convictions and passions. These women have fought for their beliefs in a way that embodies true leadership – inspiring, motivating, educating and supporting a broader community. The field of eating disorders research, treatment and recovery can only stand to grow as a result of the incredible contributions of these women, among many more. We look forward to the continued evolution of the field alongside these fierce leaders.