SPU raises eating disorder awareness

Residence Life Coordinator Amy Paulson-Young said her dream was to create a comprehensive organization comprised of representatives from every related department, to address the issue of body image at SPU.

The EDTF’s dream became a reality with the formation of the Eating Disorder Task Force (EDTF). This organization was formed to discuss body image issues and call attention to them on campus through programming and informative presentations, according to Paulson-Young.

Some examples of EDTF’S programming are the pamphlets decorating the tables in Gwinn Commons. These pamphlets celebrate Eating Disorder Awareness Month and include facts about how the media distorts society’s view of body image.

The organization also lobbied to have the scale removed from the Hill Hall Rex Center so that people would not be tempted to obsessively check their weight, Paulson-Young said.

The EDTF distributed informative packets about body images to the peer advisor of every residence hall floor and increased the amount of eating disorder brochures available in the counseling center, according to Paulson-Young.

She said she first grew concerned about the topic of body image during her first year as Residence Life Coordinator of Ashton Hall.

"I was shocked at the amount of eating disorders. It was consuming such a large part of my job," Paulson-Young said. "I didn’t feel we (Residence Life) were being proactive [on the issue], just reactive."

Although only in its second year, the EDTF has expanded to include representatives from almost every department on campus that may interact with body issues.

According to Paulson-Young, the group meets once per quarter to discuss the individual issues each representative experiences with body and how each department can use its influence practically to publicize body image issues.

One purpose of the EDTF is to recognize that body image is an issue worthy of discussion on this campus. "By doing this, we’re saying that SPU is an OK place to talk about [body image]. We’re validifying that this is something that college women deal with," Paulson-Young said.

To facilitate this, she trains seniors to go to residence halls and give presentations about body image.

Senior Becka Lewis gives presentations on residence hall floors. "Having struggled with body image, I realize how trapping it is, so I want to do whatever I can do to help people get out of that trap," Lewis said.

According to Lewis, there has been more reception for the presentations this year. "People are beginning to realize what a huge deal [body image] is, so they’re willing to talk about it more," Lewis said.

Issues in the presentations range from topics such as how media’s view of beauty has changed over the years, citing examples such as Marilyn Monroe and Calista Flockhart, to specific issues, such as why students choose to wallpaper their rooms with Abercrombie posters.

Some students were responsive to the specific nature of the presentation.

"It didn’t just focus on generalizations," freshman Corrie McDaniel said. "It went more in-depth to what things are behind body image."

"It was really interesting to notice how much emphasis we put on body image sub-consciously," freshman Rachel Carson said.

Other students said they were grateful to have a place to discuss the topic openly.

"I liked the small, intimate setting where we could all just share our opinions in a safe environment," junior Robyn Hossler said.

These students are not the only people interested in the EDTF’S presentation.

"We already have more requests than we can cater to," Paulson-Young said. "There are six [presentations] being made this month alone."

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Title: SPU raises eating disorder awareness | Author: Jade Nirvana Ingmire | Section: News | Published Date: 2002-03-06 | Internal ID: 2555