The National Eating Disorders Association reported that 10 million females and 1 million males in the United States struggle with eating disorders.
The association found 80 percent of women surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with their bodies.
The students of Peers Advocating Wellness for Students want to do something to change this.
According to Sarah Barnes, PAWS faculty adviser, some students in the organization were interested in addressing eating disorders and negative body image.
A student suggested screening the film “America the Beautiful.”
The film was accompanied by a four-member student panel who stayed afterwards to share their stories and answer students’ questions. These students had personally dealt with eating disorders.
Through the film, “America the Beautiful,” filmmaker Darryl Roberts attempts to answer the question, “Why do Americans obsess so much over beauty and appearance?” The film explores issues such as media images, plastic surgery and cosmetic companies.
Ultimately, the message was largely the same, the emphasis on external beauty is simply a part of our society and nothing can be done about it.
Members of the student panel, however, had something different to say.
“There were some parts where it was really hard for me to watch [the movie] because they did talk about numbers and sizes,” sophomore Becky Shields said.”It’s so aggravating that it’s funny.
“It’s like ‘Wow, those people really think that,’ but it was hilarious and it kind of turns everything into a big joke.
“Why do we think that [about our bodies?] It’s so dumb.”
Shields and the other three members of the student panel opened up about their own experiences struggling with eating disorders.
Shields said she struggled for seven years before she was sent to an eating disorder clinic in Arizona called Remuda Ranch.
Because of her personal experience, Shields said she encourages other students to support friends or family members who might be struggling with an eating disorder.
“Just love them and be there for them no matter what,” Shields said. “It sounds so simple because it really is.
“I can’t even explain what it feels like to be loved like that.”
The screening of the film was a way for the members of PAWS to wrap up a week dedicated to decreasing negative body image around campus.
“Last week was national ‘Fat Talk Free Week’ which was actually something Delta Delta Delta headed up,” Shields said.
She also said the Campaign for Real Beauty was involved in last week’s events through Operation Beautiful.
“This was our way of following up and bringing awareness [about body image and disordered eating],” Shields said.
Students at the event were reminded that eating disorders are complicated mental disorders and are about much more than just food.
Students were told that they can do their part to help.
As Roberts says at the end of the film, “Find the beauty that’s already there,” and remember that you are beautiful just the way you are.