Body Appreciation Week celebrates healthy living

The University of Alabama’s Body Appreciation Week continues today with an informational table at the Ferguson Center called, “What makes me beautiful?”

Body Appreciation Week, formerly known as Eating Disorders Awareness Week, is the University’s specific campaign for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

“Across the country, during the last week of February of each year, people celebrate healthier living and educate the public about eating disorders and ways to help prevent them,” Counseling Center staff psychologist Kerry Luke said.

College-aged students, especially females, are among the largest and fastest-growing group of Americans with eating disorders, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reports.

Some type of eating disorder affects as many as 10 million women and one million men in the U.S., the ANAD states. Of those affected, 86 percent say they developed the eating disorder before the age of 20. Many of these disorders can cause serious physical harm and may become life-threatening.

Body Appreciation Week works to combat this trend by encouraging students, both male and female, to appreciate themselves for exactly who they are.

“The objectives of Body Appreciation Week are to raise awareness about eating disorders, provide available resources, help promote positive body image in men and women, encourage a constructive dialogue about these issues and help prevent the development of eating-disordered behaviors and attitudes,” Luke said.

The events of Body Appreciation Week began on Monday and will culminate Thursday in a fashion show.

“Our main event for Body Appreciation Week is our annual ‘Fashion Rocks and So Does my Body’ fashion show, which will be Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the Ferguson center ballroom,” Luke said. “The goal of our fashion show is to feature women and men of all sizes and body types.  It is time for people to be proud of their bodies and have confidence walking down the runway.”

A good turnout for the fashion show is crucial to the success of the event, she said. Student participation is needed to support the positive message of improving body image to prevent eating disorders. All students are encouraged to attend.

Informational tables to provide students with literature on eating disorders, tips on how to help a friend affected by an eating disorder and other resources will be available today in the Student Recreation Center from 4 to 7 p.m. and Thursday in the Ferguson Center from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

As part of the campaign to curb eating disorders, students are encouraged to “be comfortable in your genes” and donate jeans that are too small to charity.

“We have bins for people to donate their ‘skinny jeans’ and instead wear jeans that fit the real you,” Luke said.

Collection bins for jeans are located at Tutwiler, Ridgecrest, Riverside and Burke Hall and will be available through the end of the week.  All donated jeans will be given to a local charity.

For more information about Body Appreciation Week, contact Luke at kluke@sa.ua.edu or 348-3863.

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