Here’s part of a talk I gave on the Big Island of Hawaii for the opening of our new ‘Ai Pono treatment program in Kamuela. I hope you enjoy it.

When I first started working with eating disorders, in 1982 in Honolulu, I was supervising a psychology intern who was doing research on the incidence of eating disorders in Hawaii. The two of us would get together, and we would talk about what we were seeing. And a third woman joined us, and she was a social worker who had her own recovery, but she had to figure it out herself. There was nobody to help her. So the three of us would get together and talk about what we were seeing. And every time we got together, we’d say, there is a real problem here. There should be a center for this.

After we had said it for about the fifth time, we looked at each other and laughed — okay, here we are. It was one of those; you build it and they come. And they came. Girls and women of all ages, all sizes, all ethnicities, all different kinds of struggles with eating and their bodies. No guys back in those days. Now, that is starting to change. But back then, no guys showed up.

I was intrigued as we were just trying to figure this out … Now, remember, bulimia didn’t even get diagnosed until 1980. So the field was really quite new.

What I wanted to know was, first of all, why is it females showing up?

Second, of all, why is it these girls and women?

And third, why is there a struggle around food, eating and their bodies?

I’m a storyteller; […]