Last semester, I went to a conference called Something of Value. It was a conference hosted by PanHellenic Council – an umbrella organization for women’s fraternities and sororities. This conference was aimed to address the issues the women on our campus face daily. The leaders of every sorority were asked to attend to represent their chapters.
During one of the team building activities titled “Stand up if you…” we were asked to stand if we qualified in the following statement. It was a safe space, and we were all starting to feel comfortable around each other.
“Stand up if you drink underage,” the proctor said.
A good majority of the women stood up.
“Stand up if you have been in a car accident.”
Fewer women stood this time.
“Stand up if you know someone with an eating disorder.”
I stood up, and I looked around me. Every single woman was standing in front of her seat. All 100 sorority leaders in attendance looked shocked. This was just a portion of the population, and I couldn’t even begin to register how big this problem had become. I realized that during my time here, eating disorders have not been highly prioritized. I now think it’s an issue that needs to be at the forefront of programming efforts by students and staff. This is an issue that cannot be ignored on the UI campus anymore.
The UI Women’s Center is hosting National Eating Disorder Awareness Week from Feb. 24 to Feb. 28. The purpose of NEDAW is to raise awareness and reduce eating disorders and body image negativity in any community. It also aims to reduce the stigmas that surround eating disorders and increase knowledge of treatment.
This year’s theme is “I had no idea”. Many people are not aware of the mental, physical and emotional harm that eating disorders can cause. People often believe eating disorders are a choice or a cry for attention. This is not the case. People who suffer from eating disorders have often lost control and do not know where to turn. NEDAW hopes to increase the availability of resources with accurate medical information and treatment options in hopes to save lives and raise awareness.
The UI Women’s Center has lined up many events to spread awareness and participate in NEDAW.
On Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. there will be a free screening of the film “Perfect Illusions” in the Women’s Center lounge, Memorial Gym room 109. The film looks into the lives of several individuals who struggle with anorexia and bulimia. It also looks into the effects these diseases have on the families and friends of those who are suffering.
On Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. in the Crest Room of the Idaho Commons, there will be a discussion panel covering body image and eating disorders on the college campus. Panelists include Samantha Ramsey, Director of UI Coordinated Programs in Dietetics; Kasey Thams, UI Counseling and Testing Center Intern; and Marissa Rudley, UI Nutritional Counselor.
There will be free eating disorder screenings on Feb. 27 from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Upper Canvas Area of the Idaho Commons. This event is sponsored by the UI Counseling and Testing Center.
The Student Recreation Center is offering free gentle yoga on Feb. 24 and 26 from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in the SRC Multi-Purpose Room. They are also offering it on Feb. 28 from 5:30 to 6:20 p.m.
There will be an eating disorder resource table in the Idaho Commons on Feb. 25 to 27 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Women’s Center has planned these events to align with NEDAW ideals. These events will get people the resources they need to be aware, and get help or treatment for eating disorders. No one wants to feel like they are the only one with a problem with nowhere to turn.
Hopefully these events will allow others to reach out to friends or family they are concerned about. Hopefully these events will give someone the tools they need to heal and get treatment for their eating disorder. But I have even more hope that these events will prompt discussions and ignite passion and change in people. People who suffer from eating disorders deserve the chance to get help and change the culture that surrounds their illness.
More information about eating disorders and National Eating Disorder Awareness Week can be found on the website http://nedawareness.org/. More information about the UI campus events surrounding eating disorders can be found here.