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Love Your Body Week

By Samantha Latos; For the Clock
On March 9, 2017

Love Your Body Week 

Samantha Latos

For The Clock

slatos@plymouth.edu

From February 27th to March 2nd PSU celebrated the annual Love Your Body Week. Dr. Burckes-Miller started running this event 20 years ago, here at PSU. 

At that time, it was called National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The name changed to get rid of the negative stigma of eating disorders. Love Your Body Week gives a positive mental image, and so draws in more people who are willing to learn. It comes from the National Eating Disorder Association, and the state of New Hampshire recognizes this week to celebrate. It is held annually to spread awareness of eating disorders, in order to let people know that they are not fighting alone.

Love Your Body Week reveals the reality of eating disorders. It has many interactive, meaningful events. Earlier this week, Dr. Burckes-Miller, along with several PSU students, ran an education session in the HUB Fireplace Lounge. People had booths displaying information about different kinds of eating disorders, ready to answer any questions. Students were encouraged to write down something they love about themselves, and pin it to a plant on the main table. People wrote things like “I like my hair”, and other positive comments. Events like the Day Without Mirrors on Monday, meditative cupcake making and “Fat Talk Free” Tuesday, and a chocolate reception and the viewing of the movie "Embrace" inspired students to stop putting themselves down.

Dr. Burckes-Miller believes that body positivity is crucial for our mental health. “It’s important for everyone”, she said, “It doesn’t matter who you are, because it gives us strength for ourselves overall”. Body positivity also has significant health benefits. “It decreases body dissatisfaction, and dieting”, she said, “Which are two contributors to eating disorders”. These two risks are much less likely to affect people with a healthy body image. The journey to self-acceptance is difficult, but very rewarding both physically and mentally.

Most people, college students especially, struggle with accepting and loving their bodies. Many factors contribute to these feelings of insecurity. “It’s different for everyone”, Dr. Burckes-Miller said, “I think that media is powerful, and that some are very sensitive to media images”. Movies display a certain body type as the “perfect” body, and damage perceptions of viewer’s bodies. Dr. Burckes-Miller believes that comments from parents, and romantic partners are destructive as well. “Especially fathers to daughters”, she said, “Saying things like “you’re getting chubby”, or “you won’t get a guy looking like that”, damages young women’s self-esteem. That’s why it’s important to educate men, too”. Educating everyone that eating disorders are real, preventable diseases, will benefit all of us in the long run.

Eating disorders affect everyone, whether they are male or female, young or old. This week’s motivation to educate as many people as possible. “It accomplishes raising awareness about eating disorders, which is our number one mental health issue”, Dr. Burckes-Miller said, “It has the highest mortality rate in the country”. She is actively reaching out to people to help prevent this problem. She offers advice to anyone who struggles with body confidence, “No one is perfect, and we are all special and unique in our own ways. There is no right or wrong."

In addition to running this week, she also holds a two-session Body Acceptance Program. It is interactive and discussion based. Members will be given light home exercises to do. She has been doing this for 9 years, to help decrease body dissatisfaction. “For every hundred women that take it, we may reduce the numbers to 10 of those women would not go on to develop an eating disorder”, Dr. Burckes-Miller said, “So we know that intervention works”. Her undergraduate students help facilitate this program. Those who are interested in signing up can contact Dr. Burckes-Miller at margaret@plymouth.edu, or call 535-2515. 

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