By Judy Krasna, F.E.A.S.T. Executive Director
I know that I should probably give up editing the F.E.A.S.T. blogs because I have so many other responsibilities on my plate as Executive Director, but I love doing it. I love connecting with the people who write the blog posts, I love the idea that I am getting scientifically sound resources for F.E.A.S.T., I love that I am introducing more clinicians and researchers to F.E.A.S.T. through this interaction and raising our profile, I love that the lived experience posts inspire and support our community, and I love that I am bringing valuable information to F.E.A.S.T. families on a regular basis. For better or for worse, I love it all too much to give up right now.
When someone sends me a post, the first thing I need to do is to evaluate whether it is aligned with F.E.A.S.T.’s principles and beliefs. Sometimes a post may require some tweaking to make sure that the message jives with what we want to send to our parent community. Sometimes I reject a post altogether, even though it’s unpleasant. Each post requires a judgement call on my part. Sometimes those judgement calls are easier to make than others. Everyone who writes a post for F.E.A.S.T. is doing us a favor. I feel ungrateful and unkind when I have to go back and tell someone that their post needs major edits, or that I can’t accept it. I truly hate that feeling, but I do it anyway.
My vision of the F.E.A.S.T. blogs section is that it should be a marketplace of resources where people can “shop” and choose the content that speaks to them the most or that they find most helpful. If there is enough quantity and diversity, then there will be something for everyone.
There was a recent post published with one piece of it that didn’t sit well with me. It talked about fat in a negative context and seemed to advocate restriction in children. Not only was this not in line with F.E.A.S.T.’s principles, but it went against my own beliefs in a huge way. Having lost my daughter to anorexia last year, I am incredibly sensitive about not promoting restriction in any way, shape, or form. As a person in a higher weight body, and as someone whose daughter’s weight was never pushed high enough for recovery, any type of negative association with fat truly bothers me. Plus, I have enough knowledge to know how damaging these messages are overall, and I am a person who has used her voice over the course of the last decade to try and change the things about the eating disorders field that I feel are harmful and that serve as barriers to recovery.
I could have, and should have, raised my concerns from the start. It was an otherwise fantastic post, it just had one piece that needed to be addressed. Because the author was someone who has such great stature in the field and who I greatly respect and admire, I did not. I published a post that I was uncomfortable with, and I regret that tremendously. I had what I felt were sound reasons for posting it; but in retrospect, what jumps out at me the most is that I did not trust myself and believe in myself enough to approach the author with my reservations and objections.
I did not feel qualified to challenge her, because she was at the top of her field and I was just a mom. An educated mom, an expert by experience, a somewhat known figure in the field; but still, a mom.
Due to the backlash that followed, I went back to the author twice asking her to please edit that piece out. Both times, she was incredibly kind and gracious. By the time of the second edit, I was ready to express my personal opposition and to use the voice that I should have used from the start but, uncharacteristically, did not. The author responded by telling me that I have made myself stronger by expressing my concerns, and that she appreciates that I shared my views directly with her instead of thinking it and doing nothing about it. This truly empowered me, and will motivate me going forward.
I am a person who owns up to her mistakes and who tries to both fix them and to learn from them. I am also someone who welcomes feedback, both positive and negative. If you ever have something that you want to say, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime. My door is always open.
I have learned a lot from this experience. I have learned that I can gain valuable insight from difficult conversations. I have learned that giants in the eating disorders field are often exemplary people. I have learned that F.E.A.S.T. parents are smart, well-informed, and able to challenge views expressed by the greatest of clinicians and researchers, which makes me so proud to lead this organization. I have learned that I can be strong, and I can admit that sometimes I have errors in judgement. Everyone does. It is what you do with those errors that counts.
Next time, and there will be a next time, I will trust myself and I will use my voice. I encourage all of you to do the same. I am not “just a parent”, and neither are you.