By: Lisa Von Colln

The week of February 3-9, 1997, was Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Center for Change along with local schools (BYU and Orem High School) helped raise the awareness of eating disorders by speaking to the schools through assemblies and seminars. The theme of this year’s Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Don’t Weigh Your Self-Esteem, It’s What’s Inside That Counts.

Eating Disorder Awareness Week 1997 targeted two of the highest at-risk populations for developing eating problems: adolescents and college-aged girls. The challenge: to prevent the onset of body image disturbances and eating problems like anorexia nervosa and bulimia before they begin. Every day young women are bombarded with messages narrowly defining the way they should look and feel about themselves. Images remind them that “thin is in” and cultural standards force them to weigh their self-esteem in pounds on a scale. Such narrow bands of size acceptance stifle the potential of young women, allowing our society to miss out on all that they might offer.

Conservative estimates indicate that 5-10% of all postpubertal girls and women suffer from an eating disorder and many more struggle with negative body image. Unfortunately, high schools and college campuses are often breeding grounds for eating problems. The educators, health professionals, and therapists associated with EDAP (Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention, a non-profit organization) believe that successful prevention of eating problems will require society-wide efforts to improve the self-esteem of adolescent girls and to challenge the narrow definitions of beauty that are so pervasive in our culture.

In speaking with BYU and Orem High School, Heather Anderson and Marnee Lee, both recovering from eating disorders, shared their stories. They both stressed that eating disorders were not about vanity but about pain. Dr. Frost commented, “Behind every eating disorder you will find some sort of pain – something that has made them feel worthless and flawed.”

Young women and men deserve to be happy, healthy and content with themselves. Society needs to help them learn that self-esteem should not be weighed in pounds on a scale.

By participating in Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Center for Change hopes to help people move one step closer to a world where it’s what’s inside a person that counts. As Dr. Frost always says, “A scale can only tell you how much you weigh; it can’t tell you how much you’re worth.”