Eating disorders and poor body image affect roughly 70 million people worldwide, and without proper treatment, can have life-threatening consequences.
This week, University at Buffalo Counseling Services and Wellness Education Services are promoting National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Together, they are making it their mission to impact the lives of students on campus.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, approximately one in four women has avoided engaging in a sport or physical activity because she lacks confidence in her appearance.
This attitude is no different among women on college campuses, according to Carissa Uschold, a licensed clinical social worker and the coordinator of UB's Eating Disorder Treatment Team.
Uschold has made it her mission to provide an environment that focuses on health, rather than weight and size.
'The goal of this week is to make students appreciate and think positively about their body, while providing an education regarding the dangers of eating disorders,' Uschold said. 'We want students to have an increased awareness surrounding the need for education, activism and advocacy as well as increasing a healthy body image.'
On Wednesday, Uschold and other staff members from WES held 'Celebrating Your Fabulous Frame,' an event in the Student Union that encouraged body appreciation.
Students decorated picture frames to show what represents the framework of life, rather than the physical aspect of the body. Using inspirational quotes, bright colors and pictures of personal interests, many portrayed what is unique and great in their lives.
Kayla Rizzo, a sophomore English and environmental studies major, felt the Student Wellness Team did a great job educating students and providing a safe, fun and informative atmosphere for learning and awareness.
'It's a really comforting feeling and release to be reconnected with your inner self, remembering there is more than just city life,' Rizzo said. 'I really love creating a frame that can remind me of what's truly important to me.'
Rizzo is happy with how WES handles body image concerns, and appreciates how campus services help students to work through their problems.
'UB is creating one of the most open and accepting atmospheres possible where I can be me and be happy about it' Rizzo said. 'It is so refreshing that a school of this size can be so accepting of all body types and we can be educators to promote positive wellness habits.'
Uschold and staff are also working to educate students about the Ending Fat Talk Campaign, an international campaign sponsored by the body image organization Delta Delta Delta. The campaign seeks to dispel the thin ideals of society.
Along with the campaign, Uschold also represents the Body Image Project, a movement that urges body sensitive women to appreciate their inner beauty.
'If students can learn to focus on what makes them a great person such as being strong, intelligent, smart, and creative… rather than their size and shape, then this week will be a success,' Uschold said. 'We really just want to give students an outlet to feel empowered and really learn a foundation of positive thinking…these campaigns and support groups provide students a voice, and a powerful one at that.'
Uschold's aspiration to make a change on UB's campus derives from Tri Delta's body image education and eating disorders prevention program. Tri Delta pushes students to make a personal promise to end 'fat talk,' like choosing a family or friend and discussing positive events, or keeping a journal about their body image.
Eating Disorders Awareness week will continue until Friday. For more information, visit WES or any on-campus counseling service.