NIU celebrates National Eating Disorder Awareness week

Upon entering the residence halls around campus and the Holmes Student Center, students will find a display of mannequins accurately portraying faulty “ideal” body types that society has instilled in many people’s minds. 

The traveling display will lead up to the National Eating Disorder Awareness Fair 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday in the Holmes Student Center, Capitol Room. At 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday a panel discussion will begin, featuring two people who recovered from an eating disorder. They will answer any questions students may have. 

NIU has celebrated awareness week for over 10 years, and this year the Center for Recreation and Wellness, Campus Dining Services, Counseling and Consultation Services and the School of Health Studies organized this week. 

Residence halls will rotate housing the mannequins. The female mannequin will be a life scale of a Barbie, to show how unrealistic a small doll looks in human form, and the male mannequin will be a life size version of a typical action figure to show a “V-shape” body Meg Burnham, coordinator of the Nutrition Program at the Recreation Center,  said. 

“These are toys many students grew up playing with,” Burnham said. As a result, when students are exposed to society’s “ideal” body type at a young age, it could affect how they feel about their body and “transpire into behaviors that may not be desired,” Burnham said. 

National Eating Disorder week at NIU is meant to challenge the norms in society and internalized ideas. After seeing the display and attending the fair, Burnham hopes students leave challenging their beliefs about themselves. 

A student before walking into this week may feel unhappy with themselves and want to fit the mold of a certain body type, but Burnham wants them to ask themselves

“What’s important to them? Will their life be better if they get to a different size? And do they need to internalize these societal norms?” Burnham said.