BYU Eating Disorder Awareness Week: Spreading acceptance and love

Women’s Services and Resources offers an inclusive information network, addressing women’s issues positively and collaborating campus-wide. WSR provides consultations, support groups and events to empower individuals to overcome challenges and celebrate womanhood. (Elsa Bray)

Eating Disorder Awareness Week, held on campus every February, raises awareness and fosters support for those affected by eating disorders.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, students could stop by the “Want a Cookie, Have a Cookie!” booth in the Wilkinson Student Center on Wednesday, Feb. 14, to learn about intuitive eating and have free cookies.

It’s not just about indulging in a sweet treat, but also about nurturing oneself, an act of self-love that’s emphasized during this week’s Eating Disorder Awareness campaign.

This year, senior and dietetics major Kinsey Watson planned and put together the week of activities with BYU Women’s Resources.

Watson said what motivates her is bringing hope to others.

“I’ve had a lot of loved ones and friends and roommates who have been affected pretty severely by disordered eating and I’ve seen how it’s kind of taken over their lives. I just want to try to help people realize that they’re not alone,” she said.

The week-long campaign, which started on Monday, has offered various events for engagement and education.

From viewing statistics and dispelling myths about eating disorders to learning from professionals like Lesli Allen from Counseling and Psychological Services, the events have been designed to empower students with knowledge and support.

Tuesday’s keynote session, “Escaping Diet Culture: Navigating Body Neutrality in a Society with Unrealistic Body Ideals,” offered insights into challenging societal norms and fostering body acceptance.

“From the time we’re old enough to consume media, we are told or shown that we are not good enough,” Allen said. “You are not going to go from hating your body to loving (it) overnight.”

She explained that achieving a mindset of body neutrality requires deliberate effort and practice to accept ourselves, with the ultimate goal being to reach a point of self-acceptance and radical self-love.

Lesli Allen challenged misconceptions that equate thinness with health and emphasized the diversity of healthy bodies. She emphasized that dieting is not synonymous with wellness. (Elsa Bray)

On Thursday, Feb. 15, is “Ask the Experts: The Road to Recovery,” a panel discussion featuring experts from CAPS and the Center for Change, a local eating disorder treatment center, that will address student questions.

This event will be held from 11-11:50 a.m. in room 3228 WSC.

Beyond this week, resources for disordered eating support are available throughout the school year.

Students can sign up for initiatives like The Body Project that aim to confront unrealistic appearance ideals and promote healthy body acceptance.

Additionally, dietitian-led eating disorder support group New Chapter runs each fall and winter semester.

If students are struggling with disordered eating they can meet with Watson and she can refer them to qualified individuals and resources on campus.

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