Eating Disorder Awareness Week aims to reach wide variety of students

Eating disorders manifest themselves in many different ways and affect many different people, yet many people do not understand their serious repercussions.

This week, MU is celebrating National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a five-day event dedicated to raise awareness about the prevalence of eating disorders in today’s society.

From Monday, Feb. 23 through Friday, Feb. 27, a variety of events will take place on campus, all centered around spreading positive ideas about the body.

Over 15 organizations have teamed up to put on the events hoping to draw a more diverse audience.

While people typically associate eating disorders with females, a study posted on the NEDA’s website shows many boys who were surveyed had anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

This year, MU is hosting an event called “Brotein Culture,” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at noon at the Student Center that specifically addresses the struggle to maintain proper nutrition intake.

“This event is targeted towards the male population,” said Emily Babcock, a graduate assistant at the Wellness Resource Center. “Guys often feel that they don’t fit in a category.”

Babcock explained that eating disorders are not black and white. She said they are all on a spectrum and that everyone could be harboring an eating disorder in some way.

This general lack of understanding about eating disorders is what inspires the week of awareness, she said.

This year’s national theme for the week is “I had no idea,” according to NEDA’s website. The theme was drawn from people's tendencies to overlook warning signs and excuse common habits of those with eating disorders as symptoms of a ‘phase.’

By trying to reach a broad audience of students, MU’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week aims to educate those who potentially have eating disorders or know someone who could use help.

The amount of people with eating disorders has been increasing for decades, according to NEDA’s website.

A study conducted for The Journal of Pediatrics found that 69 percent of young girls base their mental constructs about the “perfect body” on images from fashion magazines, and that media continues to send the message that thin people are prettier, more well-liked and have better lives than those who are of average weight or higher.

Many of the events during the week seek to dismiss the concept of society’s “ideal body.”

Stephanie Hernandez Rivera, the coordinator for the Multicultural Center, helped organize Body Monologues, one of this week’s events. It will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the Multicultural Center, and will feature slam poetry and encourage audience engagement.

“The goal of the event is reclamation of body identity,” Hernandez Rivera said.

Sophomore Dasia McCain said that Eating Disorder Awareness Week is very important.

“We’re all the same no matter how we look or our weight,” McCain said. “We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be judged.”

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