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‘Be Kind to Yourself’—sororities promote eating disorder awareness

March 11th, 2013 Posted in Arts and Life

By Jessica Sonderegger

LOGAN—Hairstyles of all lengths and styles, adorned with purple bows, created a sea of color as USU students—primary women—gathered in the Taggart Student Center auditorium as part of Body Image Awareness week.

Everywhere, light purple hair bows showed support for eating disorder awareness, and as a symbol of each woman’s pledge to “Be Kind to Yourself”—this year’s theme and message.

The Body Image Awareness campaign was an effort of the USU’s sororities, dedicated to a week’s worth of promoting self-confidence, self-worth and self-image.

Panhellenic President Heidi Smith said the sororities are taking a stand and recognizing eating disorders as a big issue. She and her sisters are interested in educating students on the resources available on campus and support those efforts 100 percent.

The main event was what the sorority sisters were calling an “Eating Disorder Panel,” a collaboration of three professional women dedicated to addressing questions and concerns students might about body image.

Eri Bentley, a coordinator for CAPS—USU’s Counseling and Psychological Services; Wellness Center dietician Brooke Parker, and Kelly Morse, a licensed professional counselor told the audience how to help people—including audience members themselves—with eating disorders.

“We’re so much more than this,” Parker told the audience. “Your life is worth so much more than this.”

“Let somebody help you,” Morse recommended. “Let somebody in.”

“Focus on behaviors,” Bentley suggested. “Avoid words such as ‘have to,’ ‘must’ or ‘should.’”

Audience questions ranged from, “What are the signs of an eating disorder?” to “How can I feel good about myself when I’m surrounded by so much negativity?” The audience members were actively engaged throughout, but especially when the panel debunked common practices, myths and misconceptions.

“There are no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods,” Parker said. “There are most-of-the-time foods and sometimes-foods,” but food cannot be good or bad.

Meanwhile audience members murmured about potato chips and what are commonly labeled as “bad foods.” But Parker explained that food is just fuel, and that people deserve lifestyle changes as opposed to diets.

“I hate the word ‘diet,’” Parker said, saying that the quickest way to a healthier lifestyle is to add foods instead of temporarily limiting them. She suggested increasing water intake, and eating more fresh produce, protein and fiber. “If you take that approach, you will be so protected from disordered eating,” and won’t ever have to feel deprived.

“I can be happy or I can be perfect,” she said, “but I can’t be both.”

The panel collectively agreed that, along with healthy habits, “balance and gratitude” are solutions to improving self-confidence.

“How harsh are you being to your yourself, to your own body?” Morse asked, focusing on individual audience members. She reminded the students that an eating disorder is about much more than food, appearance and control. An eating disorder, the experts said, can stem from an assortment of issues, concerns and obsessions.

It has become a common practice for woman to replace a perceived lack of friends, comfort and love with food, Morse said.

Parker agreed. “People use food to cope with so many things,” she said, behavior recognized as “disordered eating.”

“Now is the time to get help,” financially and emotionally, Parker said. USU students have many free resources available, she said, so now is an opportune time to seek professional help and easily obtain it.

Smith and the USU sororities are endorsing a social media campaign that can be accessed through Twitter and Instagram, #bekindtoyourself.


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