Week promotes body positivity on campus
Lucy Lynch | Wednesday, March 1, 2017
This week marks the student government health and wellness department’s annual Love Your Body Week, an event aimed at promoting body positivity and raising awareness about the impact of eating disorders on Notre Dame’s campus.
One in five college students will struggle with an eating disorder while at school, and recognizing this problem is particularly important, sophomore Julia Dunbar, health and wellness department director, said.
“On our campus, I think there is a lot of stigma around eating disorders,” Dunbar said. “We have made a lot of progress with general mental health stigma, but eating disorders really need our attention. We need to first break down stigma regarding eating disorders.
“Secondly, I hope to educate and empower our campus. If a friend or roommate starts struggling, I want people to be able to identify the situation and feel like they are able to help them.”
Love Your Body Week’s organizers hope to shed light on the often unnoticed mental health problem of self-image. According to Dunbar, the issue of eating disorders impacts many students on campus, whether they are personally suffering or know someone who is dealing with this problem.
“Eating disorders affect so many lives,” she said. “It is important that these brave people feel like their struggle is recognized. I have heard so many personal stories from peers that just made me believe so strongly in the work that we are doing.”
The week’s events — which align with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week — started Sunday with a performance from actress Marybeth Saunders, who relayed how eating disorders impact individuals and their families.
“We researched what activities had been planned in previous years and what had been successful on not just Notre Dame’s campus, but on Saint Mary’s as well,” Dunbar said. “We met with many different student government department directors and with representatives from other campus organizations such as the University Counseling Center, McDonald Center for Student Well-Being and Campus Dining to design the best week possible.”
Dunbar said that although it is important to be open about eating disorders and eliminate the stigma surrounding this problem, the activism should not end after this week.
“Though we are focusing on body positivity and eating disorders for one week, we can use these events as a springboard to make a change in our daily lives by watching how we use language and social media to promote certain ideals,” Dunbar said.
The week’s events continue Wednesday when University Counseling Center intern Jamie Lacey will give a presentation titled “Supporting Someone With An Eating Disorder”; there will also be a trail mix bar during lunch in North Dining Hall. The week will conclude with yoga at noon in the third floor conference room of St. Liam Hall.