BLOOMINGTON, Ill.—Students at Illinois Wesleyan University got a “boost” this week
by participating in a variety of activities designed to enhance their self-esteem.
Organized by S.O.C.A. (Students Organizing Campus Awareness), a peer group devoted
to promoting health education across campus, “BOOST Week” is an annual event designed
to spread awareness of the importance of high self-esteem and positive body image.
“Self-esteem protects you from stress and anxiety,” said Christina Armstrong, staff
counselor/outreach coordinator at Counseling and Consultation Services (CCS) at Illinois
Wesleyan. “Working with students, I find that self-esteem is a huge part of their
mental health and overall well being.”
“BOOST Week” is organized in conjunction with National Eating Disorder Awareness (NEDA)
Week. Through playful activities such as smashing bathroom scales and eating guilt-free
“Confidence Cookies,” organizers hoped to spread a serious message. “I’m hoping that
we can educate more students about BOOST week and the dangers of eating disorders,”
said Quinn Darby ’20, a member of S.O.C.A. “I want to let students know that if they
suffer from an eating disorder themselves, or think their friend is, there is someone
they can talk to, and they don’t have to go through it alone.”
Jasmine White ’20, a participant in Thursday’s scale-smashing event, said it was a
relief to smash the scale. White said that she had recently been looking for a scale
to weigh herself because she has always worried about her weight, but after swinging
the mallet more than 10 times, she said she no longer felt the need to weigh herself.
“People cannot be held down by a simple number,” noted Darby. “A number can’t define
BOOST Week’s featured speaker, Allie Torres ’13 is a community educator for the National
Eating Disorders Association and a recovery mentor and community educator with the
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. In a Thursday night presentation
at Hansen Student Center, Torres told students she has struggled with an eating disorder
since she was 15. One in 200 women in the United States has an eating disorder, said
Torres. Noting that eating disorders are complex conditions arising from a combination
of long-standing behavioral, biological, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and
social factors, Torres noted “there is no magic bullet” for eating disorder recovery.
“I honestly wish I could tell you the answer in how to be better overnight,” said
Torres, who described her own journey to recovery as “up and down and sideways and
all over the place.” She is also the creator of Skin Deep, an initiative seeking to
combat and create awareness for people with eating disorders.
Torres suggested the first step to recovery is to talk to someone about a problem
you think you have or that a friend or loved one may be suffering from. She noted
there are two support groups in the Bloomington-Normal area; in addition, counseling
and services for disordered eating is one of the many areas of concern for which students
may seek assistance at IWU’s Counseling and Consultation Services.
“Let’s also change the way we think about our bodies,” Torres said. “Less as something
to be looked at or photographed so we can hang a picture in the hallway, and more
as something that can walk, that can breathe, that can blink, that can cry. Take stock
of all the things your body can do and that you’re grateful for, and think less of
it as something to be changed or made perfect. It is already perfect when it can do
things for you.”