This is for all the people who have ever looked in a mirror and listed off numerous flaws with their bodies.  This is for every person who strongly believes he or she is not good enough.  This is for anyone who feels that the world would be better off without his or her body “taking up space.” This is for me and for you and for everyone else who does not believe they are perfect enough.

We live in a society that pushes perfectionism, and an extreme perfectionism at that.  For women, the ideal beauty is a thin but curvy frame.  For men, their ideal figure is strong, masculine and tan.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health estimates 8 million Americans (7 million women and 1 million men) suffer from some form of an eating disorder.  From anorexia nervosa to bulimia to binge eating disorders, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. Despite popular belief, eating disorders are about more than just the desire to be thin.   They are an all-encompassing illness that stems from low self-esteem and the desire to be perfect.

It is a heartbreaking disorder, one that some people don’t understand unless they have been personally affected.  As someone who suffers from an eating disorder, I have experienced the consuming cycle of eating and not eating as I try to achieve perfectionism. I have lost friends during my battle, and I have lost time. I have skipped parties because I was concerned with either not eating anything or eating everything in sight.  So much energy and time have been wasted over the past five years.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week starts today, February 20, and goes on through February 26.  It is a time for light to be shed on an mental disorder that many people do not fully understand.

A few events are being held this week at UNC.  The movie Thin, a documentary about eating disorders, will be shown in Room 3411 at the Student Union tonight at 5:30 P.M.  Viewers will also be able to ask Dr Anna-Bardone Cone, a UNC psychology professor specializing in eating disorder research, questions.

On Monday, February 21, McAllister’s Deli on Franklin Street will donate 10% of its revenue from 5 P.M. to 9 P.M. to Carolina House, an eating disorder treatment center located in Durham.  Make sure to print off the flyer. Interactive Theatre Carolina will also be performing skits on eating disorders in the Union Cabaret on Tuesday, February 22, from 6 P.M. to 8 P.M.

Even after Tuesday, bringing awareness to eating disorders should not end.  If you have friends who are suffering, let them know that you are there for them. And if they don’t have treatment, help them find it.

If you are currently suffering, please seek help.  There are people out there that care for your well-being.  Even I am here to help support you, so don’t be afraid to contact me.  I have been in your shoes, and I still am.

There is one last thing I want to leave.  You are beautiful or you are handsome just the way you are.  You have been shaped into the way you were meant to be. You were given a unique body and your own mind.  Perfectionism is just an idea. It is never tangible.  Accept yourself and others for who they are, and remember that imperfections are what is truly perfect.

-Hillary Rose Owens

Sources:

National Eating Disorders

Mirasol

Something Fishy

Facebook Event for Eating Disorders Awareness Week

Fitness Lines

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