Become educated about eating disorders

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By Rebecca Kapolnek

Sitting in my sorority house on Sunday night, I overheard one of our executive board members promoting an event that will take place later in the week. 

The Illinois Panhellenic Council will be sponsoring “Body Positivi-tea,” a seminar and tea party featuring speakers from an eating disorder treatment facility. These spokespeople will give a presentation on the importance of body positivity. 

Sunday also kicked off the beginning of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, which takes place Feb. 22 through Feb. 28. 

As someone who has struggled with disordered eating habits in the past, I see an immense need to support this week and raise awareness about eating disorders on our campus. 

Throughout the United States, 30 million men and women will suffer from some form of an eating disorder during their lifetime. 

Around 91 percent of females surveyed on a college campus have admitted to trying to control their weight with some form of dieting. About 86 percent of these cases also have an early onset (typically around the age of 20), proving that college-aged students are very conscious about their weight and try to control it. 

I believe that eating disorders are commonly overlooked diseases and ones that deserve more attention. These issues were especially enlightened for me through my experiences with restrictive eating.

Our best friends and other people in our lives could all potentially suffer from eating disorders, and our college campus as a whole would benefit from learning more about them and recognizing them as serious and prevalent issues. 

Events such as the Body Positivi-tea seminar are easy ways to target people who, statistically speaking, might struggle with eating disorders, as well as educate students on campus who might not know about the disorders.

This week, by drawing attention to eating disorders and their causes, multiple other campus activities will fix the seeming lack of focus on these disorders as well. A community art project titled “Build-A-Wall” will be running at the Women’s Resource Center, ARC and CRCE throughout the whole week, where people can place a brick over unhealthy body images in the media. 

In addition to the wall, there will be multiple speakers and exhibits every day in various locations around campus. Their focus ranges in topics from “eating disorders don’t discriminate,” (which is an exhibit on display this week at the Main Library) to an “interactive panel exploration of body image and disordered eating” titled “I had no idea” (held at the Illini Union on Wednesday). 

To raise awareness during this week, I believe that students need to learn the facts and understand the diseases. If every student attended just one of the many events this week, everybody would be much more aware of the issues and why they happen to people. 

Oftentimes with eating disorders, there are deep-rooted psychological and emotional issues that go along with developing a disorder and that should be acknowledged.

For me, my disorder was caused by the fact that I was a competitive gymnast and was obsessed with working out and reaching my goal weight. However, everybody has different reasons and no reason is invalid. 

Eating Disorder Awareness Week, as well as the many other weeks we dedicate to causes on this campus, can be great ways to form a sense of community among University students. They allow us to show empathy and support toward one another, which is one of the best ways to form that community. Still, we can’t do that fully without learning about the various problems our peers might face.

Throughout this week, all students should take these opportunities and aim to learn more about eating disorders and show support to those who might be suffering. It is up to us to promote body positivity on campus.

Rebecca is a senior in LAS. [email protected]