Fitting ImageBy Posted: Oct 2, 2009
On October 11, ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Melissa Archer (Natalie) will take part in the first National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) National Walk in New York's Riverside Park. Nearly 10 million females and one million males in the U.S. currently battle eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Archer is one of the celebrity walkers hoping to spread awareness about these disorders and encourage a healthier lifestyle for women struggling with body image. Soap Opera Digest: Were eating disorders on your radar prior to this walk?
Melissa Archer: Not necessarily, although in interviews I've spoken about weight in general and people putting so much pressure on themselves, so hearing about this, I thought this is a really great way to get some messages out.
Digest: Who do you hope to reach out to by doing this walk?
Archer: I hope to reach out to people who might have an eating disorder so that it brings awareness to them, or friends or family of that person to get them help. I also want to let people know that these exist and what to look for, and reach out to people who don't necessarily have an eating disorder but might already have thoughts [of resorting to one].
Digest: Would you encourage parents to take part in this walk?
Archer: Absolutely. I think it would be very beneficial for parents because a lot of these diseases, unfortunately, can be hidden. With anorexia, girls start wearing bigger clothing; with bulimia, girls learn tricks as to how to get rid of [their food] without sending up a red flag to someone, and there are so many others. I think this is a good way to get parents or teachers involved — anyone, really — so that they can keep their eye out for things like this.
Digest: You're aware of the pressures that the industry is often accused of putting on young women. After so much discussion has taken place about "waifs" and starved models, do you think it's still an issue?
Archer: Yes and no. I won't generalize and say that every show or every movie or every magazine makes girls feel pressured about how they should look, because I think there is also that interesting part of entertainment that's supposed to be magical and a little false. On the other hand, I think that when you have magazines that are criticizing every part of someone's body and saying, "Look who has cellulite and look who doesn't," commenting on some star who blew up and things of that nature, it's sending a message saying that if you're not skinny, you're not pretty and I don't think that that's right.
Digest: How does this cause relate to you personally?
Archer: As someone on TV, we are often picked apart and dissected by people who don't know us. There's a learning process and your confidence can waver. I think I'm in a really amazing place right now where I think I look great and I'm confident, but I've had the ups and downs of finding that footing.
Digest: What are you doing to prepare for the walk?
Archer: I have a page up where people can either join our team to walk or they can donate toward the cause and they can do it right on the Web site, which is great.
To support Archer or join her team, visit www.firstgiving.com/Melissaarcher. For more information on the walk and eating disorder prevention, head to www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.