The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness
Johanna Kandel knows firsthand the devastation of living with anorexia, the lethal psychiatric illness that robbed her of love, laughter and self-esteem as a teen and young adult. Her own struggles with the disease started as a preteen and continued on through college. While attending college, she volunteered at an eating-disorder organization and that was when she hit her wall. Realizing that she was sick and tired of being sick and tired, Johanna was ready to heal. The road to recovery was difficult, but she made it. When she finally overcame her illness, Johanna honored the pact she’d made with herself that if she did get better she would do everything in her power to help others who were suffering. Johanna put the breaks on grad school, took out a student loan and The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness was born.
The Alliance’s purpose is to help spread awareness about eating disorders and the positive effects of a healthy body image. Its focus is on educating children, parents and caregivers about the consequences of eating disorders and the dangers of dieting. Since its inception in 2000, over 70,000 children, teens, parents and health professionals across the U.S. have listened to Johanna tell her story.
One of the most difficult aspects of spreading the word about eating disorders is overcoming the stigma and shame associated with the illnesses. People are still not ready to talk about eating disorders, and many more believe those struggling with these disorders choose to suffer. Johanna hopes by sharing her story the stigma and the shame attached to the condition will be erased.
It is in telling her story that Johanna feels her work with The Alliance will have the greatest impact, especially with the schoolchildren she visits. Young people relate to the former ballerina, who tells her story with wisdom and humor. Johanna found her voice to speak out against this crippling disease, and it is her life goal, through The Alliance, to help others find their voices.