Seth Ickes – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Jenni Schaefer gave an informative interview on being an eating disorder and trauma advocate, author, speaker and musician while visiting Clarion University for a speaking event Thursday, March 2.
One of Schaefer’s key reasons for speaking on college campuses was to motivate and inspire people to get professional help for their eating disorder or any other issues. Her central message at her speaking event at Clarion University was one of “hope.”
She said, “We all have challenges in life, but we can make it through without giving up and having support.”
One of her central themes was acceptance and identification of eating disorders, emphasizing that “the truth is simple if you struggle with food and weight on any level.”
Schaefer said, “If it’s impairing your life, get help.”
She also emphasized that eating disorders are on a spectrum, and while some people may not meet all the criteria laid out to have an eating disorder, they can still have an issue that needs attention.
She has also incorporated music into her speaking. Having been interested in pursuing a career in music, even moving to Nashville early in life to work toward it, she performs songs at her speaking events. Her single “Life without Ed,” a companion song to her book Life without Ed, was even recorded in Japanese and released in Japan.
Schaefer also gave a diverse personal perspective on her work as a professional speaker and her personal connection on how she had an eating disorder during her time in college at Texas A&M University. She spoke on how she was even “complimented for her eating disorder” in the sense that friends would congratulate her on weight loss, not realizing it was due to her eating disorder.
In Life without Ed, Schaefer gives a personal perspective of the time she spent in her life with an eating disorder. Schaefer said Ed was comparable to an abusive partner in a relationship, stating that even though her eating disorder negatively affected her, she stayed because of the “good things” it gave her like weight loss, control of anxiety and other temporary benefits.
Schaefer works with multiple different institutions that benefit and help those with eating disorders including the National Eating Disorders Association and the Family Institute. She also contributes to www.eatingdisorders.com, a website that exists to provide helpful resources to those with eating disorders.