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ISSUE 118 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/25/2005

Encouraging happiness "as is"

By Kelly Wilson
Contributing Writer


Friday, February 25, 2005

The St. Olaf Wellness Center is actively taking part in a five-day celebration of increased awareness during Eating Disorder Awareness Week (EDAW), which takes place Monday Feb. 28 through Friday Mar. 4.

A nationally recognized campaign, EDAW was implemented to educate the public about eating disorders and body issues, and to alert victims to readily-available help.

With approximately five to ten million female cases of eating disorders and approximately one million male cases nationwide, a week celebrating healthy practices and body images is vital. The main goal of EDAW is to provide sufferers of eating disorders with the resources with which they can seek treatment.

When identifying problems in a college atmosphere, studies show that one in 20 college-age women struggle with an eating disorder.

The abundance of freedom and lack of supervision can allow harmful self-esteem and unhealthy eating habits to go undiagnosed. These behaviors can intensify when one surrounds oneself with people that harbor the same qualities.

In honor of EDAW, the St. Olaf Wellness Center is promoting consciousness around campus as to the scope and severity of these diseases.

Monday’s events include a showing of the video Killing Me Softly 3, which illustrates viewer susceptibility to detrimental portrayals of women in the media.

Tuesday, Kay Guidarelli, a nutritionist from the Wellness Center, is scheduled to give her talk entitled “Get Real about Healthy Eating.”

Wednesday, the Wellness Center will offer an eating disorder screening, which involves a video about the signs and symptoms of the disorders, a questionnaire meant to target the symptoms at a more personal level and an individual interview with a counselor to discuss the results of the questionnaire.

The screening is not just for victims of the disorders, but for people with friends and family members who might be suffering from them. Peer educators will also be working that week, presenting their display of body cut-outs, called "Body Image and Beauty through Time." The cut-outs will be displayed in the breezeway between Buntrock Commons and Rolvaag Memorial Library.

Nicole Grunzke, a counselor with the St. Olaf counseling center, addressed the dire need for a week that targets peoples’ knowledge of such a serious issue. "It’s everywhere; we aren’t aware of it and are so desensitized to it," she said.

Wellness Center staff are encouraged by an increased knowledge and a general willingness of students to seek help. "The more awareness the better," Grunzke said.

Grunzke stressed the need to have more knowledge of the seriousness of these diseases and the overwhelming repercussions that the unchecked eating disorders can have on every aspect of an affected person’s life. The magnitude of these disorders can be downplayed on college campuses, which can lead to significant complications when treatment is not pursued.

In response to the myth surrounding eating disorders at St. Olaf, Grunzke confirmed that St. Olaf does not, in fact, have a higher rate of eating disorders than other schools, though the demands to be thin and beautiful are real.

"It’s a real struggle for students here, and there are real pressures that perpetuate that," Grunzke said.

Despite these problems, Grunzke has a positive outlook. She recognizes that the week offers sufferers hope through the assurance that they are not permanently stuck in detrimental patterns of behavior.





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