“Learning to (Self)Love” exhibit promotes positive body image and healthy habits
Sophomore Ray Uyeda’s project raises awareness about eating disorders and encourages women to love themselves.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25 and 25% of college-aged women engage in binging and purging as a weight management technique.
Ray Uyeda, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences, organized the “Learning to (Self)Love” event in order to raise awareness about disordered eating and unhealthy eating habits, issues which are pervasive on college campuses. The event, which took place on April 11 in the Battelle Atrium, exhibited art pieces by college-aged women that were inspired by women’s relationships with body image and self love.
“I planned this event because I am deeply passionate about changing the conversation around and stigmatization of disordered eating and diminished self image,” Uyeda said.
Uyeda said that throughout her life, she has struggled with self image and body image and has experimented, to varying degrees, with anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia and over exercise.
She wanted to host this event because while she feels disordered eating is, for the most part, recognized as a serious health issue, she doesn’t believe a good enough job is done in terms of educating one another on the consequences of disordered eating as a mental health issue.
“Throughout the project’s execution, I spoke with many women about their personal experiences regarding food, image, body, and mental health,” Uyeda said. “I found that while most women discussed the same underlying factors that impacted their disordered eating or negative relationship with their bodies, we all expressed and dealt with the consequences in very different ways.”
Uyeda said she hopes those attending the event learn three things. First, she hopes they understand that disordered eating is a complex and multifaceted issue. Secondly, she hopes the people learn that disordered eating is a public health issue that significantly decreases the quality of life for those who have suffered from it. And third, she hopes that people reflect on their own relationship with their bodies and self love.
Carly Ferreira, a senior in the School of Communication, had a piece on display called “Control.” She said she struggled with an eating disorder from the ages of 9 to 18, and when she came to college she was concerned that things would continue to spiral out of control. However, she said she found that the opposite happened - she became better and learned how to accept her body for the way it was.
“For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to think about food or counting calories or dieting - I wanted to be free,” Ferreira said. “Creating art during my freshman year helped me figure out that I wanted to break free from the eating disorder that controlled my life for so long.”
At the event, the Center for Discovery, AU Counseling Center, AU RecFit and Be Here Now Yoga all had tables with information on self-care, receiving treatment for disordered eating and how to exercise healthily.
Meghan McCann, a health and wellness education coordinator at AU’s Wellness Center, said that AU has many resources for students with eating concerns, disordered eating behaviors or eating disorders. These resources include confidential counseling, referrals to off-campus resources and AU’s registered dietitian Jo-Ann Jolly.
“It is important to note that treatment for eating disorders often involves a team of professionals, including therapists, physicians, and dietitians, and coordinated, intensive care,” McCann said. “AU cannot always provide that level of care, but certainly the staff at AU and the Wellness Center will do everything in our power to support students struggling with these issues.”