Throughout Pride Month, we have featured people who have made important contributions to the conversations surrounding the LGBTQ+ community and eating disorders on our blog. Continuing with that theme on the last Friday in Pride Month, we wanted to honor Benjamin O’Keefe!
Benjamin is an actor, writer, speaker, and eating disorder survivor. Besides working as a performer, Ben has been an emerging leader in activism work focused on LGBT rights, Youth Rights, and Body Image. In this role, Ben has been responsible for creating many major movements of change. Ben has dedicated his life to sharing one core message: We all have a story, and our story has the power to change someone else's or–if we give it a chance to–change the world.
He has served as an ambassador for Proud2BMe, NEDA's interactive Web site for teens and young adults. Overcoming anorexia in high school was an experience that motivated him to launch a Change.org petition against retailer Abercrombie & Fitch when he was just 18 years old. The company’s former CEO Mike Jeffries made controversial comments about excluding plus-sized customers from its brand. O’Keefe’s campaign garnered tens of thousands of signatures and ignited a nationwide conversation about body image. He ultimately was invited to meet at Abercrombie’s office to voice his concerns.
Benjamin is using his platform to inspire conversations around intersectionality. Ben has been featured on and seen in television shows and newspapers across the world including Good Morning America, BBC World News, Huffington Post Live, Forbes, The Guardian, The New York Times and many more. He has spoken to thousands of people in audiences across the United States and Canada, and is in the process of writing his first book, "Our Stories: A voice for the voiceless." He’s one of the writers behind MTV Decoded with Franchesca Ramsey, a weekly series on MTV News that focuses on race, social justice and popular culture.
In an article on EverydayHealth.com, Benjamin shared “I have built my recovered life around one simple premise: We all have a story and our story has the power to change someone else’s, or – if we give it a chance – to change the world. When I battled my eating disorder, I felt alone. I felt as if I had no voice. Now I have become a voice for the voiceless.”
We at BALANCE thank Benjamin for helping break the stigma by utilizing his story and voice!