Each year, the Beta Chi chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon at St. Norbert College sets aside an entire week to dedicate to their philanthropy, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD). During this week, the sisters of Delta Phi Epsilon promote eating disorder awareness, prevention, and recovery by hosting daily events that advocate ANAD’s mission statement for “the development of healthy attitudes, bodies, and behaviors.” This year, these events included Get Up and Move (a night of zumba, yoga, and exercise), a screening of Eat, Pray, Love, a Trash Your Insecurities booth, an educational event, and a candlelight vigil. I had the chance to interview Dani Mason, a senior majoring in natural sciences with a concentration in biology, about her experience preparing for the events and her passion to raise awareness about ANAD.
With over half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys using unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives, the promotion of positive body images and eating disorder awareness is as important as ever. Dani explains that the purpose of ANAD Week is to facilitate and encourage a dialogue about positive body image, self-love, and self-acceptance. She says, “There needs to be a shift away from body shaming both yourself and others. No one looks the same or has the exact same body type as another person, but regardless, everyone is beautiful!”
Before this year’s ANAD Week, Dani spent much of her time planning events with staff and students to ensure they covered a variety of different topics, from nutritional and physical health to spiritual and emotional health. Although she admits that it was a little bit stressful planning everything, Dani states that during the week she “felt like a proud parent seeing the turnout at each event.”
Planning an event as big as ANAD Week is sure to have it’s challenges though. At the beginning of the week, Dani found out that one of the speaker’s for ANAD Week’s educational event was ill and wouldn’t be able to attend. “She was providing information on how to fulfill your body’s nutritional needs, but worked alone in her department, so there wasn’t anyone that could take her place,” Dani explains. Luckily, Dani has a background in nutrition as a biology major and wellness coach, so she was able to adapt to the situation and present the section on nutrition herself. Dani says that “If any topic needed to be covered, I’m very fortunate that nutrition happened to be it.”
Although the week was filled with various events, Dani’s favorite was Get Up and Move. The event included an hour of yoga, an hour of zumba, and an hour of SHAPE (a new fitness program on campus). She says “Having the opportunity to participate in a three hour workout in with both old and new friends was extremely fun! All of the instructors put so much energy into their classes and the participants definitely fed off of that. Being able to laugh and work up a good sweat together was one of the highlights!”
Dani goes on to discuss her love for ANAD as an organization, saying “ I am so passionate about this philanthropy in general, and this week more specifically, because positive body image and self acceptance are issues that many people struggle with in their lifetime, myself included.” Having an entire week dedicated to such a positive organization is certainly helping to create a space where students can talk about their struggles with body image and learn more about how to overcome them. When Dani was asked what impact she hoped ANAD Week would have on the campus, she responded by saying “I hope, if nothing else, that this week has sparked a dialogue either internally, or with others, about self acceptance.” She also offered the following advice “I think anyone who is struggling with body image issues should talk about it with someone they trust. Keeping those negative feelings inside will only add fuel to the fire and it won’t resolve anything. Having a strong support system that you can confide in will give you the ability to work through those issues and come out a stronger person in the end.” If you or someone you know is dealing with a serious eating disorder, you can also call the ANAD helpline at (630) 577-1330 or find a support group near you.