Fire Away: A Powerful Post-it

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Written by Stephanie Rennie

I don’t know who is responsible for the small colourful bits of paper stuck to the womyn’s washroom exuberantly saying “You are beautiful!”, but thank you. So often the mirror can be a curse as it points out every blemish, every bit of fat, every single flaw. Seeing these small reminders that we are all in fact beautiful (and who defines beauty anyway?) is such a nice experience to encounter while absentmindedly washing your hands.

January 30th – February 3rd marks National Eating Disorders Week, a week designed to draw much needed attention to severe disorders that affect far too many people. The National Eating Disorder Association defines the aim of this week “to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.”

The infatuation with controlled eating and body image, especially among womyn, is far too common and leads many into a vicious and dangerous cycle. While eating well and exercising is imperative to feeling physically and mentally content with one’s body, many social pressures skew the image of what is considered “skinny” and “beautiful.” Images found in magazines and on television show unrealistic conceptions of what the average womyn looks like. This constant bombardment of photo shopped and starving people seriously damages self esteem and destroys any perspective of a truly healthy body and mind.

Unfortunately, I have vivid images of how obsessions with eating and negative body images can spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. One of my good friends in high school was a perfectionist, a gymnast, a wiz in math, and also terribly anorexic. Her condition escalated to a point that drove her to be hospitalized. Forced out of high school to a lonely hospital bed under constant supervision, her once picky eating habits had turned into a disorder that destroyed many years of her life. Watching someone seek control through food and then spiral out of control was a cold slap in the face to many students that were constantly on the scale and in front of the mirror.

But not worrying if that shirt clings in all the wrong places is easier said than done. It is sometimes impossible to singlehandedly ignore the misconceptions of body images in the media and to not obsess about our weight. In fact, guilt associated with food is now normalized. It isn’t just the media and advertising drawing unhealthy comparisons between the stick figures on television and ourselves, we are now doing it to each other. The constant judgements of photos on Facebook contribute to a vicious cycle of criticism and self hatred that promotes an unhealthy relationship with food and body image.

In honour of a week dedicated to promoting awareness of eating disorders,. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Eating Disorders Coalition is hosting “Faces of Recovery,” a community panel discussion on eating disorders. The panel will be comprised of individuals suffering with eating disorders and family members that have been affected with a loved one’s struggle. The discussion will take place at Best Western Royal Brock Hotel and Conference Centre at 7pm on Wednesday February 8th 2012. This event, along with Eating Disorders Support Group and other campus initiatives provide a safe place for those suffering to receive education and support to assist them in their road to recovery.

We should all take a moment each day to feel good about ourselves instead of constantly comparing, worrying and judging. I hope that Eating Disorder Awareness Week will help to educate people on how slippery this slope truly is and will encourage people to love themselves.

More resources:

The Wellness Centre: https://www.uoguelph.ca/studenthealthservices/wellness
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Eating Disorders Coalition: http://www.eatingdisorderscoalition.ca/

Stephanie Rennie is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Fire Away publishes every Thursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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