Eating disorder weeklong events bring awareness to campus

Eating disorders and body image issues are concerns that plague today’s society. In order to educate the public, a SUNY Fredonia sorority held Eating Disorders Awareness Week on campus.

Throughout the week, sisters from the Delta Phi Epsilon hosted events to promote self love and acceptance. One of the chief interests for the sorority is the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. To culminate the week, many filled a McEwen Hall lecture room to learn about positive body image. Communica-tions Professor Tracy Marafiote presented on “Body image and ‘Beauty’ Re-imagined.”

Marafiote said body issues and eating disorders not only affect women but also affect men. Many messages in the media cause low self esteem, and according to Marafiote are usually scripted.

“We need to know media messages are … painstakingly deliberate,” Marafiote said.

Advertising often shows women not wearing much clothing, causing the need for some companies to use Photoshop to ensure “not a hair is out of place.” Males, on the other hand, are not often shown without clothing so wrinkles or creases in facial features aren’t shown as much. Marafiote also said men who have wrinkles are often looked as being more distinguished.

“We don’t see naked males as much so they don’t see every crease, wrinkle,” she said.

Marafiote started her presentation with a brief history of how women have been portrayed throughout history. Starting in 20,000 BCE with the Venus of Willendorf and with the Birth of Venus in the 1400s, women were portrayed as full-figured women. Starting in the 1800s, a trend in corsets caused women’s shapes to get smaller. It was not until Betty Page and Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s that popular culture saw a return of the curves. A decade later, Twiggy became popular in 1966. Starting in the 1990s, a lot of advertising started to target weight loss.

“Since the 1990s, we have seen an explosion for losing weight,” Marafiote said.

As part of her presentation, Marafiote showed examples of advertisements which have used Photoshop.

She showed examples of a model from H&M who was computerized and not real to showcase the ideal woman and man.

“We have this standard of beauty that makes everyone seem generic,” Marafiote said. “We seem to accept without question that beauty needs enhancing.”

Some countries have worked to ban advertisements that are enhanced. Both France and Britain have banned airbrush ads or required them to carry labels.

So what can college students and the public do to promote positive body images?

Marafiote said stop criticizing yourself in the mirror and refuse to accept criticism from anyone else. Marafiote also said to identify fat-oppressive attitudes, whether to yourself or someone else and to challenge them. Having a wide range of body types and diversity in media will also help promote positive self image, she added.

The presentation concluded with a candlelight vigil and everyone in attendance took the ANAD pledge. Annually since 1985, the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon have held the candlelight vigil themselves privately.

Last year was the first year the sorority opened up the vigil to the rest of campus.

“I’m really glad to see people come out and learn about eating disorders and embrace (diverse) beauty,” Junior Dana Manza, fundraising chair for the sorority, said.

Along with Manza, Chelsey Ray, Cassie Mentecky, Jenny Capitano and Angela Montaldi, all members of Delta Phi Epsilon, helped plan and organize the week. Delta Phi Epsilon President Sara Kobel said Capitano, vice president for programming, really wanted to do the week.

“I’m really impressed with the turnout this year,” Kobel, a junior, said.

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