Providing a space where a conversation is comfortable around topics such as eating disorders and body image is the purpose of this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW).
During a time of many transitions and stress, college students are highly vulnerable to eating disorders, said Campus Dietitian Marissa Rudley. The University of Idaho works to give students the resources and assistance needed to combat these issues.
With this year’s theme “It’s Time to Talk About It,” EDAW will help bring eating disorders and the stigmas associated with them to light, Rudley said.
“(The theme) is trying to shine that light on this issue and how so many millions of Americans are struggling with it, that there is help and that early intervention is key,” she said.
Put together as a collaborative effort, Rudley said Vandal Health Education, the Women’s Center and the Counseling and Testing Center worked to consolidate their individual resources to help reach out to students.
“We really value having a week on campus where we can highlight resources … for students struggling with eating disorder issues and body image issues,” Rudley said. “We also want to highlight that there is hope and there is help out there.”
Rudley said EDAW is part of a broader program that is observed by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
One thing NEDA promotes every year is a confidential online screener, Rudley said. This online screener allows a person to be checked for an eating disorder to see if their attitudes and behaviors about body weight are in a healthy place.
“It kind of screens to see if any of those things are extreme or leading to unhealthy attitudes,” Rudley said.
UI works with the same goals as NEDA, offering campus the same screenings in-person each year. Rudley said screenings will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Idaho Commons.
“We want people to check in with themselves and with those that they care about to see if those thoughts and feelings are at a healthy and balanced place,” Rudley said.
Along with screenings, Rudley said campus will put on a variety of different events such as body positive movement, free belly dance classes and positive affirmation crafts.
In addition to the other events taking place this week, Rudley said students who are invested in learning more about the media’s influence on body image can attend the Body rEvolution presentation, facilitated by UI junior Avery Bolton.
“A lot of it is focused on what the media puts out and how our culture feels about body image,” Bolton said. “Towards the end, we’ll go over resources and how you can talk to a friend.”
Bolton said she hopes to make the Body rEvolution program more conversation-based so individuals can feel comfortable about sharing.
“I think the best way to come at these problems is through educating each other and communicating,” Bolton said.
Savannah Cardon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @savannahlcardon