February, the month of Valentine’s Day, is a time many spend focusing their love on others. Sales of chocolate, flowers, and stuffed animals skyrocket, and love stories featuring Colin Farrell hit theaters (hello, “Winter’s Tale,” I’m coming for you). But there’s an aspect of love that all of this Valentine’s madness never mentions: loving yourself. That is why members of the WCU community have dubbed February “Eating Disorders Awareness Month” and have planned events around the theme “Red White and BeYOUtiful” so that people learn to love themselves for exactly who they are.
Ilana Berger, a senior Psychology major and Vice President of the Sister to Sister Peer Mentors program, explains, “We had a wonderful turn out last year with just a week [of eating disorders awareness] and so we decided to take on the challenge to make it a whole month.”
One of the first events on the schedule is a showing of “America the Beautiful: Is America Obsessed with Beauty?” on Feb. 11 from 5:30-10:30 p.m. in Main Hall 168. The movie explores the harmful beauty standards portrayed by the media and how they affect Americans. Young women are targeted specifically by these unattainable messages and are the most likely to develop low self-esteem and body dysmorphic disorder—and the eating disorders that go along with them.
“Our culture does not acknowledge the seriousness of these disorders, so we hope to start the conversation to remove stigmas, bring more awareness about how serious these mental disorders are, and help to create an environment for people who struggle to have the strength to speak up about their problems and reach out for help,” Berger says.
Assisting with this worthy goal will be Darryl Roberts, the writer, producer, and director of “America the Beautiful.” He will be present at the screening on the 11th and will be partaking in a Q&A session following the film.
Roberts is the president of Sensory Overload Entertainment and has been delving deep into our nation’s most prevalent phenomena and deepest obsessions since the beginning of his career. His first local cable show in Chicago, entitled “Backstage with Darryl Roberts,” gave viewers an inside look into the entertainment industry. Later in his career, his film “How U Like Me Now” explored the balance between relationships and careers in the 90s.
Now, Roberts’ knack for exposing the truth about our society will help the WCU community open up a dialogue about body image. He spent two years gathering footage for his project, interviewing celebrities in Hollywood, young girls in the modeling industry, and everyday people. The result is a revealing portrait of America and its unhealthy obsession with beauty.
Eating Disorder Awareness Month will continue with informative and exciting events sponsored by the Sister to Sister Peer Mentors, BODY Peace, The Women’s Center, The Wellness Center, Delta Phi Epsilon, and Men In Action.
Events include the following:
The Love Your Body Fair on Feb. 19 from 11-1:30 p.m. in the Sykes Ballrooms
Scale Bashing on Feb. 19 from 7:30-10:00 p.m. in the Sykes Ballrooms
Poetry slam on Feb. 20 from 7-9 p.m. in Sykes Ballroom C
Book discussion of “Fat Shame: Stigma and the Fat Body in American Culture” on Feb. 25 from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in Sykes 209,
ANAD Candlelight Vigil on Feb. 26 from 7-8 p.m. in Sykes Ballroom B
Eating Disorder Panel Discussion on Feb. 26 from 8-10 p.m. in Sykes Theatre
Trash Your Insecurities Bake Sale on Feb. 27 from 11-3 p.m. in Sykes
Body Image & Disabilities Discussion on Feb. 27 from 7-8 p.m. in Sykes Ballroom B
Dude, Get Your Weight Up! On Feb. 28 from 3-4 p.m. in the Women’s Center
ANAD Chipotle Fundraiser on Feb. 28 from 4-8 p.m.
Berger says, “most of these events are occurring for the first time, so we wish for a big turn out to help make each of these events a success.” Be sure to join the discussion and add to the positive self-love vibes this Valentine’s season!
Molly Herbison is a third-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at MH757997@wcupa.edu.