By Chelsea LoCascio
Students’ moods lit up the Brower Student Center during last week’s campus-wide power outage as they passed by mirrors covered in positive messages for those who do not like what they see in their reflection.
“It’s so hard nowadays to zone in on (positive aspects of yourself), because people are more inclined to find (the) negative,” said Ashley Attinello, a senior communication studies major and co-chair of CAPS Peer Educator’s National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. “We’re just trying to encourage them to see why they’re beautiful, just like everyone else.”
Peer Educators from CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) set up a table and a few mirrors in the Student Center Atrium on Monday, Feb. 23, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. that allowed students to write an optimistic message for themselves and others, as part of National Eating Disorder Awareness Month.
“It’s the idea that when you look in a mirror, you’re supposed to see the positive aspects of yourself and focus more on those,” Attinello said.
The mirrors, which were displayed in the lobby of the Library all last week, had messages such as “Love who you are,” “You are be-you-tiful” and “Keep smiling.”
Although the main reason to have the event was to encourage a healthy body image, CAPS Peer Educators also wanted to promote their upcoming events in March.
“The main idea is to spread awareness,” Attinello said “We are trying to engage people who come to our table (and) spread information by word of mouth.”
CAPS Peer Educators told passersby about their next event, the NEDA Monologues on Tuesday, March 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Library Auditorium, where students will share their personal encounters with eating disorders, no matter their gender.
“We have a male speaker, (and) we’re really excited about that,” said Taylor MacLean, a junior psychology major and co-chair for CAPS Peer Educators National Eating Disorder Awareness Month. “We try to make it gender-neutral because some people think it’s a female issue, but, really, it affects everyone.”
CAPS Peer Educators will host another event on Tuesday, March 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Cromwell lounge featuring Meghan Tomasek, a Dialectical Behavior Therapy Program Coordinator at Timberline Knolls residential treatment center in Lemont, Ill. Tomasek will focus on mindfulness and eating disorders.
Members of CAPS Peer Educators encourage those who have an eating disorder to attend these events, along with CAPS Peer Educators meetings, and to seek professional guidance.
Attinello said there are several different people to reach out to, such as CAPS, the campus dietician and the medical clinic located in Forcina Hall.
“Don’t hesitate to seek help,” MacLean said. “A lot of people get nervous. They don’t want the stigma that they have a mental illness, but more people than you think suffer with poor body image even if it’s not to the degree of an eating disorder. So definitely reach out to people, because everyone wants to help you. No one should be feeling let down.”