From Feb. 22 to 28, Bradley will be recognizing National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, celebrating the theme “… until eating disorders are history.”
“National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is the largest outreach effort in the nation to raise awareness about eating disorders,” Lisa Fix-Griffin, a Health Center counselor, said. “It is a collective effort by volunteers, eating disorder professionals, educators and others committed to the National Eating Disorder Awareness mission. Anyone can become involved.”
The week is an effort to prevent eating disorders and body image problems while reducing stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment, Fix-Griffin said.
Beginning Monday, there will be tables in the Michel Student Center and Markin Family Student Recreation Center with collages that either promote or discourage eating disorders. Students will be able to add words or images to the collages until the Feb. 20.
Magazines will be available at the tables, but students should feel free to bring their own. On the Feb. 23, the negative collage will be burned in the quad.
“Eating disorders are serious, life-threatening illnesses, not choices,” Fix-Griffin said. “This is why Bradley students are invited to participate in collage making using images that are diverse, honor the human subject and are realistic.”
From Feb. 23 to 25, students will be able to see displays in the Markin Center and Student Center with information about eating disorders and body image. Also on the Feb. 23, junior family and consumer sciences major Kristin Kaye will be sharing her recovery story at 7 p.m. in Neumiller Hall.
“Eating disorders are a problem at every campus just as depressive illnesses, anxiety and substance abuse disorders are,” Fix-Griffin said. “Many students, predominantly female, have a diet mentality and worship thinness. They have adopted thinking that the less one eats, the better one is.”
When one talks negatively about his or her own or someone else’s body, do not join in, she said.
If a student or friend comments about how little he or she has eaten in the day, don’t admire him or her for it. After all, friends don’t let friends starve, nor should they praise it, Fix-Griffin said.
On Feb. 28, to close out National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, there will be a Late Night BU with a Mardi Gras festival and the chance to learn how to belly dance.
“We hope to show that all shapes and sizes are sexy, and there will be more messages about body acceptance and eating disorder prevention,” Fix-Griffin said.
Treatment for an eating disorder can be lengthy and expensive.
Fix-Griffin said anorexia nervosa has a median treatment length of seven years and costs about $150,000. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder, so it is important to get help as soon as possible, she said.
Many colleges, including Bradley, have programs addressing eating disorders and offer resources for help. One of Bradley’s programs is called “Nuts About My Body,” which is run through the wellness program and Body Project.
There have always been services for help at Bradley, but Health Services is currently developing an Eating Disorders team, and there are also highly qualified counselors available through the counseling center.
Fix-Griffin said students should not hesitate to call if they or someone they know needs help.