For the first time, the Boston College chapter of To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA-BC) is participating in National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. TWLOHA is a non-profit group dedicated to bringing hope to those dealing with mental health issues as well as reducing the stigma surrounding the struggles of mental health that have permeated the community.
“Because eating disorders are as much a physical illness as they are a mental illness, we hope to broaden the understanding that mental health encompasses many forms we don’t typically consider,” said Gilbert Pan, MCAS ’16 and Co-President of TWLOHA-BC.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associate Disorders, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8, and 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression. Additionally, nearly half of teenage girls and one-third of teenage boys employ unhealthy habits to control their weight.
“People often assume that eating disorders only affect females, but in fact, males account for a fairly significant portion of all eating disorder cases. Just because someone is male does not mean that someone is invulnerable to eating disorders,” said Pan. “Likewise, someone does not need to look sick to be sick.”
On Monday, Feb. 22, TWLOHA set up an advocacy table in O’Neill Plaza from 12 to 2 p.m., and students had an opportunity to sign a pledge to love their bodies even in their imperfections.
Later in the week, TWLOHA brought their pledge poster back out to O’Neill Plaza accompanied by a scale and a hammer. Students were invited by TWLOHA advocates to smash the hammer down on the scale. The act was intended to draw the attention of busy passersby, directing attention to the effects of eating disorders.
“We hope that our events bring attention to eating disorders and its repercussions. All these events aim to promote a body-positive culture and to eliminate the stigma associated with eating disorders,” said Pan. “We want to start that conversation about eating disorders and through it, hope to encourage early detection and recovery.”
TWLOHA-BC will conclude their observance of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week with a film showing on Sunday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. in Stokes 103N.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or want to know how to support a friend, you can reach out to BC’s University Counseling Services at (617)-552-3310 or call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at (800)-931-2237.