(U-WIRE) Monday marked the beginning of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which is intended to increase understanding about the prevalence of eating disorders, while promoting positive body image and healthy eating and living on campus.
Eating disorders are widespread among college students, with 40 to 50 percent of young women on American campuses making unhealthy dietary choices, according to the MORE to ME campaign project, a movement on college campuses which aims to promote a healthy body image for women.
According to the campaign, approximately half of the women on Facebook.com are the victims of an eating disorder.
The campaign also points to a recent study conducted by the University of Colorado Wellness Department, which discovered that “young girls are more afraid of getting ‘fat’ than nuclear war, cancer or their parents dying.”
What has led to this national obsession?
“As a group, we feel that our diet-and-looks-obsessed culture contributes to the self-loathing and unhappiness many of us experience,” said U.C.-Davis’ Women’s Resources and Research Center assistant director Adrienne Wonhof.
Campuses around the country will hold events to prevent and reduce eating disorders and the prevalence of body image oppression through education, outreach, support and intervention, according to Wonhof.
“We challenge our campus community to fight these unhealthy obsessions and instead appreciate and nurture ourselves and our bodies,” Wonhof said.
At her school, events will include the Great Jean Giveaway, where students will be able to donate jeans that make them feel unattractive or self-conscious. There will also be a presentation by Jessica Weiner, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty’s ambassador and author of Life Doesn’t Begin 5 Pounds from Now and A Very Hungry Girl. The self-proclaimed “Queen of Self-Esteem” is also a frequent guest on the popular “Tyra Banks Show.”
“If you haven’t seen her, you need to. She’s an amazingly optimistic and inspiring speaker. She helps us put into perspective all the societal pressures we face to conform to unhealthy and unrealistic standards of beauty,” Wonhof said.
The weeklong series is sponsored by The Association of Body Image and Eating Disorders, a committee composed of UC Davis representatives from the WRRC, CAPS, Cowell Student Health Center and Campus Recreation, according to McLain.
“Because body image concerns and disordered eating is frequently found on college campuses, we believe that our programming is essential to the health and wellness of our students,” said McLain, a specialist who works with eating disorders and body concerns.
“Some of the workshops during the week address eating disorders, specifically,” McLain said. “Others examine the role of the media, culture and intersecting identities on body image, while others equip us with the skills to truly appreciate and love our bodies as they are.”
To learn more about MORE to ME and its purpose, go to the website at moretome.org.
Also, If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or body image concern, please seek assistance at the health center.