At least 30 million people in the United States suffer from eating disorders, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, and Ohio State’s Student Wellness Center is trying to tackle the issue head on this week.
The wellness center kicked off its inaugural Love Your Body Week Sunday with events across campus to coincide with National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. In collaboration with student organizations and university initiatives, Love Your Body Week is a week of seminars, art workshops, performances and fitness courses to promote health and self compassion, Claire Pitrof, a third-year in English and accounting and student assistant for body acceptance program Body Project, said.
“No body is better than any other body,” Pitrof said.
The week of events is not directly affiliated with NEDA Week, an annual event put on by the nonprofit National Eating Disorders Association, but Pitrof said it still has a message they are trying to pass on to the university’s students.
The event was called Love Your Body Week to broaden its scope from eating disorders to promoting health and body positivity, Pitrof said.
According to the event flier, to put on the 21 events over the course of the week, the center partnered with CHAARG, an organization that aims to ignite passion in college women for health and fitness, according to its website; RPAC fitness instructors; Buckeye Food Alliance, the university’s food pantry; the Body Project; and Project HEAL, an organization that fundraises to provide treatment grants and spread awareness for eating disorders and body positivity, according to the club’s purpose statement.
The message is especially important for students because college is a common time for people to develop eating disorders, Rani Bawa, a third-year in neuroscience and president of Ohio State’s Project HEAL chapter, said.
“Being in college, you have so much pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, and you have a lot of peer pressure, and so body positivity is something that historically hasn’t really been talked about,” Bawa said.
Project Heal is an awareness and fundraising organization meant to help those with eating disorders overcome barriers to treatment, according to its website.
Bawa added that diet culture and fad diets can lead college students to develop disorder behaviors, and she wants to bring discussions of body positivity to the forefront to combat that.
Project HEAL members are hosting a movie night Tuesday, when they will discuss body positivity while watching “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and passing out goodie bags.
“Taking part in mental health awareness and body positivity activism is a big part of giving back to the community, and being a college student and a part of this community, you have a responsibility to educate yourself, so that is why I think it is important for people to participate,” Bawa said.
Love Your Body Week will run until Friday, with events each day held at various locations and times. All events are free and open to the public. A complete schedule and more information about the events can be found on the Student Wellness Center’s website.