The Counseling Center wants students to be comfortable in their genes from Feb. 26 to March 2.
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week aims to teach the UM community how to prevent eating disorders and where to turn for help.
“The idea is to promote positive body image and encourage a healthy lifestyle,” said Kenya Urcuyo, a predoctoral psychology intern at the Counseling Center who helped plan the week of events.
NEDAW is an annual occurrence in communities across the country and is the country’s largest eating disorder outreach effort, according to the National Eating Disorders Association’s website.
This year, the main event of UM’s NEDAW will be a visit by Miss Florida 2006, Allison Kreiger, on Tuesday Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. on the UC Rock. She will be speaking about her own experience with an eating disorder.
“There are so many people on campus who are scared or embarrassed to talk about it [eating disorders],” said Abdul Chaudry, president of Body Image for Guys and Girls, who helped organize events.
“This is a good outlet for them so they can realize there are other people on campus with the same problem.”
NEDAW organizers hope to make students aware of the resources they can use if they need help.
For instance, a free eating disorder screening will be available Feb. 28 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the UC Breezeway.
“We want to see if anyone stands out in a significant way to see if they can get any help on campus at the Counseling Center,” said Dr. Jose Sandoval, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center.
Though people are most aware of anorexia and bulimia nervosa, there are a number of other eating disorders including binge eating disorder and orthorexia, where a person is fixated on only consuming healthy foods, he said.
“There are a lot of people who have work out issues on this campus,” Tim Dolan, a senior, said.
On “Mirrorless Monday,” Feb. 26, the mirrors in the UC bathrooms will be covered with posters of positive body image messages. Markers will be provided so students can add encouraging messages of their own.
Jacqueline Vinson, a sophomore, said it is important for those struggling with an eating disorder to know they have support from other students.
March 1 has been designated “No Diet Day.” NEDAW organizers will give away free ice cream on the Rock and is asking students to sign a contract promising not to count calories or watch their food intake that day.
“I think it’s important for us to realize that beauty doesn’t have to be the way it’s portrayed in the media and pop culture,” Urcuyo said. “You can still love yourself and love the way you look without having to follow a specific model that is portrayed through media.”
Next week’s events are sponsored by Body Acceptance Resources and Education, an outreach program at the Counseling Center.
BEAR has been working with students, faculty and staff to plan NEDAW since December.
Sandoval said that nationally it is estimated that about 20 percent of college females have an eating disorder or disordered eating.
For more information about NEDAW or eating disorders visit www.edap.org or contact the Counseling Center at (305) 284-5511.
Stacey Weitz may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.