Video meant to encourage discussion about eating disorders

In an effort to raise awareness about disordered eating, the University Health Services (UHS), The Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and the Center for Woman Students (CWS) will show the movie "Beauty Mark: Body Image and the Race for Perfection" on Feb. 22, in the HUB-Robeson Center auditorium. The free 75-minute film begins at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. Jody Whipple, UHS nutritionist, and CAPS graduate student Daphne Davis will lead a discussion after the film.

The video kicks off National Eating Disorder Awareness week at Penn State.

"We wanted to address this issue that is so prevalent at a college campus," Whipple said.

Eating disorders affect at least 10 million women and 1 million men in the United States and cause more deaths than any other psychological illness. Statistics suggest that 90 percent of individuals with an eating disorder are less than 25 years old.

"Eating disorders are isolating problems that require an enormous amount of support and encouragement to overcome," said Audra Hixson, CWS program coordinator. "'Beauty Mark' is a powerful documentary that brings to light the private battle that many people face."

Produced by former champion triathlete Diane Israel, the film chronicles her investigation of America's fixation on thinness, beauty and physical perfection. Along the way, Israel discovers that she suffers from disordered eating herself.

"Israel set about making this film as a psychologist, not even realizing she had an eating disorder," Whipple said. "Fat talk and the quest for staying fit had become so common, she didn't even notice she was obsessively exercising."

Israel struggled with eating disorders and obsessive exercising for years before she began to come to terms with American culture's self-destructive ideals of good looks and competitiveness.

"I felt like trash, I trashed myself, and I didn't eat," Israel says in the video. "I felt scared, lost and angry. Why was I so afraid of being fat?"

"Beauty Mark" will be shown through funding provided by the Laura R. Whitaker Fund.

National Eating Disorder Awareness week continues with two events on Wednesday, Feb. 24. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Peer educators from Peers Helping Reaffirm, Educate and Empower (PHREE) will staff an eating disorders awareness/body image table in the HUB-Robeson Center. At 7 p.m. in 312 HUB, the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will host a workshop titled "Understanding Eating Disorders and How to Help."

There are a number of resources available at Penn State to help students learn more about disordered eating including CAPS (http://www.sa.psu.edu/caps), the University Health Services Nutrition Clinic (http://www.sa.psu.edu/uhs/basics/nutritionclinic.cfm) and the Center for Women Students (http://www.sa.psu.edu/cws). Students can find additional information at http://www.NationalEatingDisorders.org/ or call the help line at 800-931-2237.

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Last Updated February 16, 2010