Open panel for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week keeps the discussion going.

Linda Stocum

Kent State’s Body Acceptance Movement (BAM) held an open panel about eating disorders in the Kent State Student Center on Tuesday night.

The four panelists included Kylie McCann, the previous president of the Body Acceptance Movement, Marissa Stephens, president of the I’m That KSU Girl, Eryn Whilloughby, one of the LGBTQ Student Center interns and

Three other panelists joined Werkin, including Kylie McCann, a former president of BAM, Marisa Stephens, president of “I’m That KSU Girl” and Eryn Willoughby, a sophomore visual communication design major and Monica Werkin, representing BAM.

Each one of the panelists talked about their individual experiences with eating disorders and how the eating disorders have impacted their lives.

Three out of the four panelists had an eating disorder themselves and the other had a close friend who struggled with the issue daily.

The panelists talked about the first time they learned about what an eating disorder was.

“I didn’t learn about eating disorders until 8th grade health class,” McCann said.

One panelist was never taught what an eating disorder was.

“During my junior year (of high school), I was hearing someone give a speech (on eating disorders) and it clicked,” Willoughby said. “I never really had a formal education (about it).”

A theme that kept coming up during the conversation was the need to make eating disorders and body positivity more widely discussed among people. They agreed holding the conversation earlier, before there is a problem, was key.

“You need to know that you can talk about it before it gets worse,” Werkin said.

One of the issues associated with eating disorders discussed during the panel was the idea of individual journeys and recoveries.

“Everyone’s story is different, so it’s hard to tackle (the issue of an eating disorder),” McCann said.

The panelists described what the organization that they were representing do to help the conversation get started. Although each organization is different, all have the same goal in mind – trying to create a safe place in which people are comfortable talking.

They discussed how the university can do a better job at creating a less stigmatized environment for people to talk about their eating disorders.

“Usually the university doesn’t know that there is a problem,” Stephens said.

They said to get the university’s attention and support, people have to go out and keep trying to talk to them.

“Keep going (to different organizations) because unless you bug them, they won’t do it,” McCann said.

The next big event for National Eating Disorder Awareness week is the National Screening Day event in the Student Center on Wednesday.

Linda Stocum is the room and board reporter, contact her at [email protected].