Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Embody Carolina

Tonight I attended the Embody Carolina training, a training about how to be an ally to someone struggling with an eating disorder. I've done other trainings at UNC like One Act (how to intervene in a situation that could lead to sexual violence), HAVEN (how to be an ally to someone who has experienced sexual violence), and Safe Zone (how to be an ally to LGBTQ-identified people). I have really valued these trainings in the past, and felt like it was time that I should be Embody trained as well. (Next on the list is the ReThink Psychiatric Illness training!)

The Embody Carolina training was great - I definitely recommend it to anyone at UNC! I actually wish it had been longer to talk about some issues more comprehensively. I think it would be especially helpful for someone who has very little prior knowledge of eating disorders.

I felt like it is relevant to write about this training here because of the theme of this blog: "what happened today that made me know I am a woman?" In my life, I have had several friends with eating disorders, and most of them have been girls and women. I know that men and boys struggle with eating disorders too, but unfortunately, more women than men experience eating disorders.

From what we learned tonight, Binge Eating Disorder is equally prevalent in men and women, yet Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are more common in women than in men. Since people with AN and BN are feeling pressure to be thinner than they are, it seems to me that the higher prevalence of these two disorders in women comes from social and environmental pressures. I wrote before about pressure on women to be thin and therefore to do cardio rather than to lift weights. But the effects of this pressure on eating disorders is something I take much more seriously than working out in a certain way.

I strongly encourage each of you to make an effort to educate yourself about eating disorders, how to be an ally for someone who is struggling with one, and how to change the conversation we have to valuing people for more than just their looks and weight. These social pressures are dangerous to people, especially women and girls. We all need to do what we can to change that.

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