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Love Your Body Week – Breaking Down Stigmatization

By Jared Gendron
On March 1, 2019

This week prior, PSU hosted its 22nd annual Love Your Body Week. As a part of National Eating Disorders Awareness, the goal of the week-long string of events and presentations is to convey the dangers and risk that eating disorders can have.

Love Your Body Week set up displays in the HUB on Tuesday the 26th. The content of the posters ranged from the effects of eating disorders, certain categories of them, and various health-related concerns including stress, sleeping patterns, and strategies for mindfully eating.

Love Your Body Week is organized by PSU professor Mardie Burckes-Miller. Mardie is a professor in Health Education and Promotion. As such, she is a strong advocate of awareness on many types of eating and health disorders.

Mardie expressed to me how understated health disorders are; they are all around us and are very common. “30 million people in America will experience an eating disorder in their lifetime,” says Mardie. She stated that the disorder is largely genetic and ranges from all ages. Eating disorders really can affect just about everybody.

One display I found interesting was the disorder of “muscle dysmorphia,” the feeling that one’s musculature is not “full enough.” As a man, expressing disdain of one’s body can be uncomfortable. We are socially accustomed to believing that anorexic and bulimic habits are exclusively women’s problems. This is so not the case at all. Men are humans too and can hold themselves to unrealistic and idealist standards. Shipping off to college, young men that start to routinely work out can figuratively be trying to “escape their pasts” through body transformation, myself included. In my first few years at PSU, I over-exercised and undernourished myself due to a fear of gaining excessive fat and making myself look worse, in my eyes. It’s a private topic for everybody, but for men especially. It’s uncomfortable discussing it with others because it doesn’t line up with our gender narrative. Well, from the information I received at LYBW, 1 in 4 people who experience anorexia and bulimia are men, and about 1 in 3 people who experience binge eating disorder are men too. It may not be a 50-50 split, but that is still a sizable population of males who are self-conscious of their bodies.

Muscle is the physical manifestation of the body’s hard labor, and we oftentimes only focus on the “aesthetic” instead of the benefits. We see a person with washboard abs and think “that dude is ripped!” when in actuality they might be suffering from a form of body dysmorphia through undereating. As a result of obsessing over appearances, people would rather endure the fatigue of overtraining and undereating to stabilize their fragile egos. “It’s about the abs, man!” No, it's about thinking 5% body fat is sustainable, desirable, and healthy overall. It’s not realistic and shouldn’t be a thought process that young adults are fantasizing for themselves.

Muscle dysmorphia is just one example of a body image disorder. As a testament to PSUs values in health awareness, the university hosts the only graduate program in the nation that is catered to eating disorders. Beyond this, Professor Burckes-Miller hosts a body acceptance program throughout the school year. The aim for those who take part is to cultivate comfortableness and confidence in one’s body. The program is for everyone and consists of two one-and-a-half hour sessions over the course of two weeks. If you have any questions pertaining to the program or any of her other events, Professor Burckes-Miller is open to communication by her email

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