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Last modified: Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Celebrate Every-BODY Week at IU Bloomington to raise awareness of body image issues

Feb. 18, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Health and fitness experts at Indiana University Bloomington plan to raise awareness of the potential harm that can result from a negative body image by focusing on the positive during Celebrate Every-BODY Week Feb. 23-27.

jeans photo

Jeans dropped off at collection sites at the Student Recreational Sports Center and the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation will be donated to the Shalom Community Center as part of Celebrate Every-BODY Week.

Print-Quality Photo

Events, sponsored by Campus Recreational Sports and the IU Health Center, include a jeans drive for charity, talks by leading eating disorders experts and a screening of Beauty Mark, a movie that examines the relationship between pop culture and self-image.

Negative body image issues -- often exacerbated during the college years -- can develop into disordered eating behaviors that jeopardize health and can lead to social isolation and even death. DeeDee Dayhoff, staff therapist with Counseling and Psychological Services at the IU Health Center, said 75 percent of adult women and 54 percent of their male peers are dissatisfied with their appearance and wish their bodies were different. She said 40 percent to 60 percent of college women will experiment with eating disorder symptoms, such as vomiting, over-exercising, binge eating or laxative use.

She also said the threat is old news to savvy college students, who have already heard the stats, so health and fitness experts are working to raise awareness of the issue by providing useful information in a more positive light. They are encouraging body acceptance, for example. The jeans drive is designed to help people get rid of their tight, uncomfortable jeans.

"The jeans drive is for a good cause, the Shalom Center," said Andy Fry, assistant director of fitness for Campus Recreational Sports. "We want people to embrace their body type and not feel like they need to wear a certain kind of jeans. We're trying to increase self-love in regard to people in bodies of all shapes and sizes."

Here are more details about Celebrate Every-BODY Week and Celebrate Your Body Day:

  • Guest speaker Jan Taylor-Schultz, Feb. 25. Taylor-Schultz, a nationally recognized eating disorders specialist from Bloomington, will give a talk titled "Comfortable in Your Body? Learn how to love yourself" Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave. Schultz is a licensed clinical social worker who has been through eating disorder treatment herself.
  • Third annual Celebrate Your Body Day, Feb. 25. Informational tables will be staffed throughout campus in residential halls, recreational facilities and sororities, among other places. Students will be asked to write examples of "fat talk," and also will be asked to write on note cards comments about their own body features that they like. These celebratory cards will be displayed for all to see.
  • Free showing of the movie Beauty Mark, Feb. 26. The movie, shown at the National Eating Disorder Association's national conference last year, will be shown on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in the SRSC auditorium. The movie will be followed by a discussion facilitated by psychologist Ron Thompson, an internationally recognized eating disorders specialist who also practices in Bloomington. Beauty Mark examines popular culture's toxic emphasis on weight and looks through the eyes of Boulder-based psychotherapist and former world-class tri-athlete Diane Israel, who tells her own story while interviewing other champion athletes, body builders, fashion models and inner-city teens about their experiences relating to self-image.
  • Jeans drive for Shalom Community Center, all week. Collection sites will be located all week at the SRSC and School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
DeeDee Dayhoff

DeeDee Dayhoff

Examples of "Fat talk" include phrases such as "I hate how my stomach looks," or "I can't believe what I ate for lunch today," -- talk that Dayhoff describes as a constant "toxic chatter." On Celebrate Your Body Day, students will be asked to write down what they like or appreciate about their bodies and why. The celebratory cards will be displayed at sites throughout campus.

"Hundreds and hundreds of cards will be displayed; it's really neat to see. Participants also can register to win meals, massages and other prizes donated by area businesses," said Dayhoff, who is co-chair of the Coalition for Overcoming Problem Eating and Exercise, a multidisciplinary group that formed two years ago to coordinate efforts to address these issues on campus.

COPE members represent CAPS, Campus Recreational Sports, Residential Programs and Services, medical staff from the IU Health Center, IU Athletics, local eating disorder specialists and dieticians from Bloomington Hospital. To learn more about COPE, visit

Celebrate Every-BODY Week is a "louder" version of a campaign Campus Recreational Sports began last fall to help people who use their recreational facilities become more aware of body image issues and disordered eating behaviors and to let them know who can help them or their loved ones. Campus Recreational Sports is a division of the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

Business cards, informational brochures and fliers explaining the main signs of eating disorders -- which can include excessive exercise -- were placed throughout the recreational facilities. After Celebrate Every-BODY Week, the campaign will shift its focus to healthy eating. Fry said recreational facilities have an obligation to help the people they serve with issues such as this, particularly since exercise can be part of the problem.

Campus Recreational Sports, for example, is finalizing its policy for identifying and helping people who show signs of excessive exercise, which is when they exercise beyond the point of exhaustion and often through illness or injury. Such behavior not only hurts the individuals, said Fry, but it creates an unpleasant environment for others exercising nearby. Dayhoff said disordered eating has a similar effect. The people with the behavior often tend to shy away from social activities, isolating themselves, yet people around them might still be aware of their harmful behavior.

"Because it can be uncomfortable to voice concerns about these issues, oftentimes, friends and family choose not to say anything at all," Dayhoff said.

More about body image and eating disorders

Body image issues span a continuum and can include excessive dieting, preoccupation with diet, exercise and body image; avoiding eating with others; and avoiding intimacy. More extreme behaviors can include recurring binge eating and purging, obsessive fear of gaining weight and dangerously low body weight.

Tips for those concerned about loved ones' body image struggles:

  • Be supportive and caring
  • Talk openly and honestly with your friend or family member about behaviors that concern you
  • Never diagnose, criticize, blame or pass judgment
  • Listen to their thoughts and feelings
  • Learn as much as you can about their problem and provide helpful information
  • Suggest seeking professional help
  • Talk about the positive aspects of recovery and leading a healthy life
  • Be a good role model of healthy eating, exercise and self-acceptance
  • Reinforce the positive behaviors of the person

For more information about body image or to seek help, contact the Indiana University Health Center at 812-855-5002, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 812-855-5711 or Health & Wellness Dietitians at 812-855-8230.

Fry can be reached at 812-855-9653 or Dayhoff can be reached at 812-855-5711 and