National Eating Disorder Awareness Week promotes support, self-acceptance

Kelsey Husnick

The Body Acceptance Movement will sponsor a series of events on campus to encourage students to love their body in honor of the National Eating Disorder Association’s Awareness Week from February 24 through March 2.

Colleen Fitzgibbons, a graduate student in public health, founder of BAM and anorexia nervosa survivor, said the theme for the week, “Everybody knows somebody,” emphasizes, “the fact that eating disorders do not discriminate.”

“[Eating disorders] affect people of all ages, gender and demographics,” she said. “You may have someone in your life, a friend, mother, brother, sister or grandma, that is struggling with an eating disorder. Many people go undiagnosed for years and it affects their health greatly.”

This is why spreading awareness and holding events on campus is so important.

“Eating disorders are a silent disease,” Fitzgibbons said, “so if someone doesn’t talk about it, most of the time people are not aware that they have an eating disorder.”

Fitzgibbons said body issues and eating disorders are prevalent in woman between the ages of 12 and 25, and are common occurrences on college campuses, which makes programs and events such as NEDAwareness week important. The NEDAwareness, National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associate Disorders lists the main causes of eating disorders as:

  • Genetics
  • Psychological factors, such as coping skills, trauma, personality and family issues
  • Social issues and a culture promoting thinness

“On most college campuses, eating disorders are a concern,” said John Schell, a senior psychologist at University Health Services. “In our society today, there is a lot of pressure to look a certain way, and many people equate being attractive with being thin. This puts a great deal of pressure on students, both male and female, and can contribute to unhealthy eating patterns and the development of disordered eating.”

NEDAwareness Events

• BAM informational table

When: Feb. 25 and 26

Where: 2nd floor Student Center

Time: 11 to 2 p.m.

• Love Your Body Workshop

When: Feb. 25

Where: DeWeese Health Center Conference Room A

Time: 3 to 4 p.m.

• Q-and-A panel: Eating disorders and body image

When: Feb. 27

Where: DeWeese Health Center Conference Room A

Time: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

• Love Your Body Yoga

When: Feb. 27

Where: Student Recreation and Wellness Center Yoga Room

Time: 7 to 8 p.m.

“Events such as these bring awareness to the issue, and encourage body acceptance and healthier self-perceptions, as well as healthier eating and lifestyle choices,” Schell said.

A “be comfortable in your own genes” campaign will be held all week, urging students to “wear jeans that fit the real you” and donate jeans that no longer fit. Boxes collecting jeans will be located in the Health Center, Women’s Center and Moulton Hall. All jeans donated will be taken to a local shelter.

Active Minds @ Kent State University, the Women’s Center, University Health Services and the Office of Health Promotion are sponsoring these events.

“Students who may think [they have] or are diagnosed with an eating disorder can receive free resources,” Fitzgibbons said.

For students seeking additional information or help, clinics on campus are always open to those struggling with body image issues or eating disorders, Schell said.

Individual therapy is available at Psychological Services in the Student Health Center, at the Psychological Clinic in Kent Hall and a Counseling and Human Development Center in White Hall.

If you believe that someone you know is having problems, Schell said, “the best thing to do is to express that concern directly in an empathic and sensitive manner, offering support and encouragement. It is always helpful to know that someone cares and is willing to help.”

“Everyone is different and everyone will react differently,” Fitzgibbons said. “My advice would be to let that person know that you care and are there for them. They may not want to talk about it or deny the fact that they have an issue, but be patient and respect their space.”

For more information visit the following websites:

facebook KSU BAM.

Contact Kelsey Husnick at [email protected].