by Rebecca Gluck
It is February, and that means Cupid is preparing to take aim at many hearts. However, the heart is not the sole body part being targeted this month.
The entire body was getting attention at a booth set up in the Henry F. Hall Building lobby on February to mark the first week of Eating Disorder Awareness Month.
Concordia Health Services and ANAB (the Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Association of Quebec) joined forces to provide information on how to cope with an eating disorder and how to help others battle the illness.
The theme was Trash the Diet, and a garbage pail was on hand with a sign encouraging people to dump anything from laxatives to unwanted clothing.
"The object is to get people to stop abusing steroids and diet pills," said Health Educator Owen Moran. "We are encouraging people to literally trash the products that influence negative body images."
A monitor showed a video of feminist Jean Kilbourne attacking the media for its unrealistic representation of bodies. "Such a small percentage of people actually have the genetic potential to be perfect," Moran said. "People need to accept their bodies as they are."
As ANAB volunteer Elizabeth Carone said, eating disorders are caused by social and psychological factors. Concordia students Marie-Eve, 21, and Marie-Hélène, 23, were quick to agree. Both are anorexia nervosa/bulimia survivors.
Marie-Eve spoke candidly about her battle, which started when she was 12 years old. It took her five years to overcome her illness but the battle is one for life. "I will always be tempted," she said, "but I will never go back to hurting myself."
Marie-Hélène said her healing process was similar to that of an alcoholic or drug abuser attempting to overcome addiction. "Not eating was my dependency, like a cigarette," she said, "but I realized that I was slowly killing myself and I didn't want to die."
Marie-Eve was thrilled that Health Services and ANAB were offering an awareness program. "I think it's great what they're doing. It's so important," she told the organizers.
"I get so frustrated when I see articles about crash dieting, or when I pass by a girl and I can tell from the green tone in her skin that she's anorexic. The messages we're getting are wrong. We must realize it."
Both young women said the key to survival is happiness. "If you're not happy with your life, you'll always be wanting something else, but when you accept who you are, you realize that you deserve to live. We couldn't be happier."