More than 8 million people in the United States suffer from some type of eating disorder. To help increase students’ knowledge of the debilitating effects of these diseases, MU will host Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb 24 – 28.
Eating disorders can range from unhealthy eating habits to life-threatening anorexia, and college students are at the highest risk of developing a disorder. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91 percent of college women will try to restrict their diet in some way.
Jessica Semler, an MU psychologist who specializes in unhealthy eating habits, decided to take action by organizing a week of events similar to those she observed while interning at Iowa State University. Semler felt the Mizzou campus was lacking in any real sort of spotlight events to shine on eating disorders.
“I wanted to revitalize [the event],” Semler said.
With the efforts of Semler and the Counseling Center on campus, this will be the third year in recent Mizzou history that Eating Disorder Awareness Week will be held.
Operation Beautiful, kicking off the week on Feb. 24 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., gives students a chance to write positive body image messages on post-its and then place them on mirrors in bathrooms. The practice is to try to help people who usually see only the negatives to their appearance find something they like — to negate the negatives, Semler said.
Another event during the week is the Real Barbie and Ken Photo Booth located in the Student Center on Feb. 25 and in the Rec Center Feb. 26. The photo booth gives people a chance to take fun pictures while standing in a box that resembles typical Barbie doll packaging. The unique booth aims to shine light on the fact that real people do not, in fact, look like Barbies.
A display of books related to the topic of eating disorders will also be on display in the Mizzou Store throughout the week to provide students with information regarding eating disorders, body image and recovery.
The week is co-sponsored by numerous organizations that also see increasing awareness of these disorders as a positive move for Mizzou’s student population. These organizations include the Women’s Center, the Mizzou Store and the Wellness Center.
The Wellness Center, in particular, wishes to promote healthiness in students and to highlight the importance of positive self-image.
Emily Babcock, the Wellness Resource Center’s graduate assistant, said the center wishes to extend this message beyond campus. The Wellness Resource Center will be providing postcards for students wanting to send encouragement out to friends and family located elsewhere. And even after Eating Disorder Awareness Week is over, the Wellness Resource Center will be hosting speakers to shed light on recovery from eating disorders. Speakers will be in the Women’s Center on March 6 and April 23.
“Although the Eating Disorder Awareness Week happens once a year across the country, [the Wellness Center’s] goal is to keep [eating disorder’s relevance] going throughout the year,” Babcock said.
For more information on the events scheduled to take place next week, refer to http://mizzoulife.missouri.edu/eating-disorder-awareness-week/ or contact the Counseling Center.