by Molly Robinson
Eating Disorder Awareness is not as popular of a topic as other illnesses such as Breast Cancer Awareness. However, it should be viewed in equally high importance, at least to some populations and ages.
We are constantly flooded with ‘ideal’ images that society teaches us to value, such as actors/actresses with a specific physique. At the same time, some of us may also be flooded with phrases on the JMU campus such as ‘Our first and last love is self love’ and ‘the prettiest girls are the happiest girls.’ But what if you’re not happy at this point in your life? Doesthe idea of ‘self love’ sound cliché and a little conceited to you? These are just examples of ideals that can cause us to question our views of body image personally and societally.
Each individual faces the challenge of accepting his or her body, learning to like it, building confidence in one’s inner self, and finally, fully embracing one’s self and opening up to happiness. Positive body image is an issue that most people struggle with, no matter your body type or gender. Eating Disorder Awareness Month serves to remind us that body image extremes can lead to unhealthy habits and, eventually, can even compromise our ability to function.
Awareness on the health issue can facilitate us, as college students, to recognize symptoms of someone who could be suffering from an eating disorder. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some tine in their life including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or otherwise not specified. Thus, it is likely that you may come across someone with an eating disorder.
You may ask the question: What can I do to help my friend/family member with an eating disorder? The simplest answer is just to genuinely support them, encourage healthy meals with healthy proportions, and normal workout habits.
At JMU, the Hope (Help Overcome Problems with Eating and Exercise) team is available for any student. UREC’s Nutritional Analysis, is another resource at students’ disposal that offers a nutritional analyst who can meet with you to discuss decencies and excesses in your diet and how to approach a healthy meal plan.
This February—Eating Disorder Awareness month—embrace this quote by Amy Bloom, an American writer: “You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”