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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Event aims to promote healthy body image

    Gale Welter, a nutrition counselor at Campus Health Services, helped to organize the Love your body day on the mall today, in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week.
    Gale Welter, a nutrition counselor at Campus Health Services, helped to organize the ‘Love your body day’ on the mall today, in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week.

    “”I don’t belong here. I’m not sick,”” said Jaye Arouty’s daughter to her mother from her hospital bed during her lengthy recovery from anorexia.

    Because of her daughter’s struggles with anorexia, Arouty, a National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) volunteer, has been organizing support groups and giving workshops on college campuses for people struggling with eating disorders.

    “”America is so obsessed with outward appearance,”” Arouty said. “”So many advertisements are geared towards how to make you ‘better,’ The media needs to change and the public (needs to) tell the media that they won’t accept this.””

    In recognition of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Campus Health is hosting “”Love Your Body Day”” on the UA Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today. The event will promote healthy body image and acceptance at any size, through interactive exhibits, raffle prizes, eating disorder screenings, presentations and other informative material.

    While some research argues that eating disorders may be genetic, Arouty said it is important to question the role of society and the emphasis that is placed on body image.

    There are roughly 35 million men and women nationwide that are combatting some kind of eating disorder including anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating, according to NEDA.

    Popular media, including television, movies and magazines, have increasingly emphasized a thin body as the ideal for a woman, Arouty said. Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last ten pounds, they will be a step closer to “”perfection.””

    According to Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc., one out of every four college-aged women uses unhealthy methods of weight control. This includes fasting, skipping meals, excessive exercise, laxative abuse, and self-induced vomiting. Studies also show that the exposure to images of airbrushed and thin female bodies is linked to depression, low self-esteem and the development of unhealthy eating habits.

    Gale Welter, a nutrition counselor at Campus Health Services and coordinator of the event says that the number of students she sees with eating disorders is on the rise.

    “”Women aren’t the only ones suffering,”” said Welter. “”Some men I see have muscle dysmorphia. They want to pump their muscles up, they want immediate fat loss and they don’t care what it takes.””

    Muscle dysmorphia is a distorted mentality where a person believes that they are “”too skinny”” or “”too small””, but in reality, they are above average in musculature, said Welter.

    Following the “”Love Your Body Day”” event will be a screening of a film about the America’s unhealthy and dangerous obsession with beauty at 6 p.m. in Gallagher Theater. The filmmaker, Darryl Roberts, will be present for the screening of his movie, “”America the Beautiful,”” to address the epidemic of physical perfection.

    “”Size double zero wasn’t around 20 years ago,”” said Roberts. “”(The) majority of this country are spending billions of dollars chasing their dream to perfection. Eating disorders are on the rise, advertisers are winning the fight. I’m hopeful that once we heal ourselves, we can all get over this brainwashing.””

    The idea of his film came after Roberts said he was searching for the “”perfect woman”” to marry, and he realized he was chasing some one that did not exist.

    “”It’s imperative that we start loving ourselves for who we are. We all have something uniquely beautiful and people need to join me in this belief,”” said Roberts.

    Roberts spent two years filming his documentary, covering issues dealing with the unhealthy consequences of being body-obsessed, such as the risk for eating disorders.

    For the documentary, Roberts interviewed a wide range of people – from common citizens to celebrities including Paris Hilton and Mena Suvari. He also follows the life of fashion model Gerren Taylor, who began modeling at the age of 12. His film has already won several awards at both national and international film festivals.

    “”His documentary deals with America’s fixation on beauty. Media has had a huge impact on what we think is normal,”” said Laura Orlich, a mental health clinician at Campus Health, who helped coordinate Wednesday’s event. “”You’re more than just the size of your jeans.””

    On campus, there are numerous resources for students battling eating disorders. Campus Health provides Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which offers psychological counseling and support groups.

    “”If students are having any kind of problems, they’re not alone,”” said Arouy. “”There’s so much support out there, this is a fight you can win.””

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