Bracelets these days make either a religious statement or show support for a cause. There's a new bracelet out and this one looks fashionable but marks a serious disorder in young people, mostly women. The message it sends can be deadly. Young girls suffering from eating disorders are wearing bead bracelets marking their illness. There are websites like bluedragonfly.org that sell the bracelets and each color has a meaning. Red bracelets represents anorexia, purple is for bulimia, blue and black are for self injury. They're shipped in discreet packages so parents won't notice.
22 year old Paige has suffered from anorexia and bulimia for 10 years. Paige preferred keeping her disorder a secret growing up, but says patients who wear the bracelets do so as a sign of solidarity.
PAIGE / Recovering from anorexia and bulimia:
"Some people wear it since you have no sense of self, it's like looking down on your wrist reminds you of who you are. I think some people might use it as a reminder if going to food look down and go …I can't."
Dr. Pauline Powers, a USF professor and president-elect of the National Eating Disorder Association says the bracelets are popular because those who wear them want to find a way to belong in a world that's virtually ignored their problem.
DR. PAULINE POWERS / President-elect National Eating Disorder Association:
"If you can't get better have something admire about it. It's our fault for not having appropriate treatment that's easily found and affordable for people with eating disorders."
According to the NEDA, more than 5 million people in the US suffer from eating disorders. The illness is more common than schizophrenia and Alzheimer's Disease, yet receives less funding.