In the United States, one in four women and one in 10 men live with an eating disorder and people are developing these disorders at younger ages.
Initiatives to promote health and self-acceptance are popping up around Butler University in an effort to combat society’s fixation on being skinny.
“You can do just as much damage to your body image as anyone else,” said sophomore Rachel Brown, a member of Peers Advocating Wellness for Students.
Last Wednesday, posters for National Love Your Body Day adorned the walls of the Health and Recreation Center. One asked students to write why they loved their bodies. PAWS took part in the event, handing out granola bars and creating the posters.
This week, Delta Delta Delta is hosting Fat-Talk-Free Week. Every chapter around the country holds this event.
The event aims to help the women of Delta Delta Delta, as well as women throughout campus, focus on being healthy instead of skinny.
“In the media, they Photoshop everything to look perfect,” said sophomore Kelly Freiberger, a member of Delta Delta Delta. “It’s not realistic.”
The Facebook event page organizes activities by day. For example, on Monday women are encouraged to compliment their friends in the hope that accepting other people will help women accept themselves.
There will be a table set up at Starbucks throughout the week where students can sign a pledge to eliminate negative talk about themselves and their peers.
Anxiety and depression generally lead to poor self-esteem. Butler students are generally high achieving, and the pressure to succeed can carry over into their physical perception, Wallpe said.
Students also can receive negative messages from their families or peer groups.
“I hear a lot about students who compare themselves to other students,” she said.
A common message from all three women is that the key to overcoming body image issues is creating an environment of positivity.
The confident women in Brown’s life inspired her to accept her body and focus on being healthy and feeling good she said.
She encourages people who are struggling to give themselves compliments on Post-it notes as a reminder to stay positive.
Freiberger encourages people to own who they are.
“Even if you have things you don’t like, that’s you and you should be proud of it,” she said.
Wallpe also said people should focus on celebrating their strengths. In the past, her clients have written letters to magazines and confronted negative influences in their lives. Her goal is to create a culture of body acceptance.