Photos by chris shaffner
On March 4, the Emily Program Foundation held the unmaskED Gala (“ED” standing for “eating disorders”) at the Metropolitan Club & Ballroom in Golden Valley. The foundation provides eating and body image disorder-related services, supports research, and works to “unmask” the secrecy and shame associated with such disorders.
Wayne Glass: When I was overweight, I decided to take over the situation and developed exercise bulimia. Every time I ate something, I would go and exercise. I was doing this six or seven times a day. I didn’t know what it was until I took a psychology class. There’s this idea that men don’t have eating disorders. I’ve tried to challenge those misconceptions.
Billie Gray: People think that eating disorders are an upper-middle class, suburban, white girl’s disease. That’s not true at all. Eating disorders cut across all ages, genders, socio-economic classes, and races. Middle-aged women are the fastest growing segment being diagnosed.
Lauren Palick: I was at the Emily Program for four years during my treatment for an eating disorder. Before recovery, I was really sick and miserable. I was dying. Now I’m happy. Every day is a struggle, but at least they armed me with good coping skills.
Kitty Westin: My daughter, Anna Westin, died of an eating disorder. She struggled with a real mental illness. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t eat—she couldn’t eat. The day she died, I knew I had to do something to prevent others from suffering like she and our family did. That launched me on a path of advocacy. I was in the room last year when President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act, which included the Anna Westin Act. It aims to help people with eating disorders get higher levels of care.
As told to Nancy Rosenbaum. Interviews have been condensed and edited.