Monday, March 1, 2010

Scene Twenty-Two: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

I see her walking across the Green most days, clutching her coat against the lingering New England winter. I see him most days, too, racing through Baker to reach his 10A on time. They're any Dartmouth student, and they have eating disorders.

Sometimes an eating disorder is easy enough to spot. The avid gym-goer, the food measurer, the "I ate before I came." Others, though, aren't as evident. This year's Eating Disorder Awareness Week encouraged us to think about those people we wouldn't ordinarily expect to have an eating disorder. You know, everyone that isn't a skinny white girl.

In collaboration with all of campus, Collis displayed jeans of all sizes to reinforce that eating disorders can happen to people of all shapes.

Students had the opportunity to participate in a private screening for risk factors in Collis Commonground one day, for which every participant was rewarded with a comfy pair of socks tagged in Dartmouth-Green letters: "Every Body is Beautiful."

The week also included a discussion about how to approach a friend about whom you have concerns and how to recognize less-familiar signs that someone may have unhealthy eating or exercise habits.

Dartmouth's go-to resource for eating disorder concerns are the Eating Disorder Peer Advisers. EDPAs are fellow students trained in providing advice and support; the idea is that because they're our peers they're more accessible and less intimidating than the people at Dick's House.

While one week of serious publicity and serious discussion comes nowhere near remedying the plague of eating disorders that afflict Dartmouth students, I want to think that some of my peers uncomfortable in their own skin saw the big banners assuring that "Every Body is Beautiful" and maybe, just maybe, started to believe it.

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