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Beat That Scale! Fair attacks body image as ‘Every Body Rocks’

February 15th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photo By Shirrel Cooper

LOGAN—If scales could talk, the one hanging on Brooke Parker’s wall would have a lot of stories to tell. But Parker’s scale would not have much to say after the beating it took last March.

The ordinary bathroom scale was part of “Every BODY Rocks 2010,” last year’s wellness fair, designed by Parker, a dietician at the USU Wellness Center, and Eri Bentley, coordinator for CAPS—the Counseling and Psychological Services office at Utah State University.

“It’s a fair in that it has booths, but it’s more of an awareness, or an outreach, a promotion of positive messages,” Parker said, as plans come together for the 2011 version of the fair, which opens Thursday on campus.

Parker and Bentley have high hopes for this year’s event.

“We’re doing this for national eating disorder awareness week,” which runs from Feb. 20-26, Bentley said. “It’s a body image fair, basically, and two purposes we have [are] to increase awareness of eating disorders and prevention. And … to facilitate healthy body image for students.”

Eating disorders represent a serious problem with a high mortality rate, she said. The issue doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. USU’s event is important because it raises awareness about serious problems that affect body image and people’s health.

“Coming to this fair and learning about how media influence us, and what kind of negative impact those things have on us, hopefully will start people thinking in different directions,” Bentley said. The fair will help teach students to be more healthy consumers of the media.

As a registered dietician at the Wellness Center, Parker has seen for herself how students struggle with body image.

“(Eating disorders) are a growing problem,” said Parker, who says that she has more “clients” this year. “It seems like one or two new a week are referred.”

But there is help available in Logan.

“I just think everyone has some connection where this can be an impact, so I think this needs to have an awareness,” Parker said. “I really want this population to know how lucky they are to have the resources they do.”

She said that some treatment facilities charge upwards of $1,000 a day for treatment. But USU offers similar services for students for free.

“You can get weekly counseling and medical attention and meet with a dietician through your student fees,” Parker said.

Because eating disorders are a growing problem, both Bentley and Parker believe that this awareness fair is essential for USU students.

“Oftentimes, our sense of self gets tied to our physical appearance, because that’s what we get from media,” Bentley said. “When we open magazines, we seen an ad that says ‘only if you could look like this’ you know?”

She said that this fair is going to offer booths to help promote healthy body image.

One booth they will have is the life-size Barbie doll.

“Barbie, if she’s a real person, her feet are too small, she has, like, size 3 feet, so she can’t stand, so she’d be crawling on all fours, none of her organs would fit in her tiny waist,” Bentley said. “When you see through doll size, she may look pretty, but if you make that into real person size, it looks pretty creepy and very unrealistic.”

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Other booths include will feature intuitive eating, “fat can be your friend,” increasing positive self-affirmation, “falling in love with carbs again,” and a scale-bashing, like last year, among other things.

“We’re going to bring in a scale and see what we can do,” Parker said. “It was super fun last year. You wouldn’t believe how many guys got involved in that.”

Bentley said that the fair is important because eating disorders can happen to anyone.

“It’s not just about eating disorders, not just about how skinny someone looks, or what behaviors they’re engaging in,” Bentley said. “It really has physiological [and] medical consequences, so it really is a serious illness.” The “thin” illness is treatable, she said, and that is one of the main reasons to increase awareness.

Parker agrees.

“I think one thing people need to know is that this issue affects a lot of people,” she said. “I just think everyone has some connection where this can be an impact, so I think this needs to have an awareness.”

“Every BODY Rocks 2011” will be held in the TSC International Lounge on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


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