The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Students practice self-love during Eating Disorder Awareness Week

“I had no idea.”

This statement, the theme of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2015, serves as a testament to the unfortunate truth that eating disorders are too often overlooked or misdiagnosed. NEDA Week highlights the importance of recognizing eating disorders and their early warning signs.

“In the United States alone, 30 million people will be impacted by an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime,” according to the National Eating Disorders Association. “Eating disorders can include extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors surrounding weight and food issues.

“These conditions affect all kinds of people and don’t discriminate by race, age, sex or size.”

From Feb. 23–27, sophomores Darion Bayles and Molly Anne Marcotte coordinated and held events on campus in acknowledgment of NEDA Week.

“No one realizes how common eating disorders are,” said Bayles. “It is much more than the stereotype of it only being experienced by young white women.”

Tabling during lunch hours in Founders provided students with information on eating disorders. During tabling, students were granted the opportunity to write down an insecurity to be burned at a “burn your insecurities” bonfire on Friday. Those passing by also signed the  “All Bodies Are Beautiful” pledge.

By signing the pledge, students offered their names to be included in the upcoming “All Bodies Are Beautiful” mural.

“We have received over 100 signatures for the mural,” said Bayles. “The mural will be used as a way to encourage awareness of eating disorders visually, but it is also meant to support those who are suffering from eating disorders on campus.”

The mural will hang in Founders as a reminder to all of the significance of practicing self-love and acceptance. Although NEDA Week has passed, encouraging healthy discourse surrounding disordered eating is just as vital.

“College campuses often provide a breeding ground for eating disorders with a high-stress, competitive environment, away from parental supervision, and so much freedom over food choices,” said Marcotte. “In addition, due to the epidemic of sexual violence on college campuses, we need to be especially mindful of eating disorders because they are a common coping mechanism for sexual and other types of trauma.”

95 percent of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

Within this margin, female-identified people are considered to be more at risk.

“Currently, the media portrays eating disorders as a white woman’s disease, which is extremely limiting given the scope of demographics in those affected by eating disorders,” said Marcotte. “Eating disorders still face much scrutiny, and oftentimes are presumed to be an autonomous choice of vanity to be thin versus a complex biopsychosocial disease.”

Cases of male-identified people with eating disorders are far less common, leading to the issue of underreporting and fear of speaking out.

“(Male-identified people) are afraid that if others know that they’re suffering from a woman-stereotyped disorder that they will look like less of a man,” said Bayles.

Research suggests that one in 10 people living with eating disorders are male-identified. However, according to Eating Disorders Victoria, this figure greatly underrepresents true prevalence of males suffering from eating disorders.

“It is most important to recognize that the underlying issues, physical dangers and emotional anguish associated with eating disorders are consistent across the genders,” according to the website.

“It is important to note that the treatment services available, such as psychotherapy, nutritional advice and support groups are equally as effective in treating males, and the prospect of recovery is equally as realistic and available to males experiencing an eating disorder as it is to females.”

It is time to expand the discussion here at Guilford.

“It doesn’t seem like we have much programming around eating disorders at Guilford so I really appreciate the dialogue being opened up,” said senior Chelsea Yarborough.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of an eating disorder or struggling with one, the counseling center on campus offers free and confidential services.

“Take a trusted friend if you need one, and know that the staff will always be compassionate and understanding,” said Marcotte. “In addition, Kristie Wyatt and myself in the wellness education department can help point you in the right direction for resources and support.”

If you have any questions or need someone to talk to, you can reach Guilford’s counseling services at (336) 316-2163.

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  • K

    Karina KendrickMar 9, 2015 at 12:14 am

    I think this article, and the actions being performed, are great. I had an eating disorder when I attended Guilford and I don’t think anyone had a clue the entire time I was there. And the guilt and shame I suffered internally was enough to keep me from reaching out and trying to explain what was going on to my friends closest to me. Everything was oversexualized amongst the students and I felt like I had to be skinny in order to be sexy. I wished I had someone to reach out to when I was suffering and starving in my dorm room alone but I’m glad that students at Guilford are being made aware of eating disorders and will hopefully be there for their fellow peers going through these same issues. Way to go with furthering education not only through book smarts, but through life skills Guilford!