Between 10 and 20 percent of college-aged women and four and 10 percent of college-aged men suffer from eating disorders in America and more suffer from poor body image, according to Embody Carolina, a UNC-based eating disorder support group.
The event was sponsored by Carolina House, the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, Embody Carolina and the UNC Panhellenic Council. The groups also held an informational dialogue with students.
Senior Chloe Paterson thought UNC students would be especially susceptible to eating disorders.
“Carolina students face a lot of pressure to be perfect, and that doesn’t help,” she said.
Stephanie Zerwas, assistant research professor for the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders agreed, saying college students can be prone to developing a disorder.
For much of the event, nearly all of the Southern Smash participants were female, though organizers emphasized that men can also develop a disorder.
“A common misconception is eating disorders only affect rich, vain, white girls. Eating disorders do not discriminate; people of all backgrounds struggle,” Zerwas said. “A lot of guys are out there struggling with eating disorders but have no one to turn to or feel like they are the only ones.”
Sophomore Mackensie Kvalvik, a Zumba fitness instructor, said body image is a universal issue.
“Everyone has thought their body wasn’t good enough,” she said.
On-campus support options include Embody Carolina, which trains students on how to help friends with eating disorders, and the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders, which treats victims and conducts research on biological factors that lead to the disorders.
McCall was satisfied with how the event turned out.
“If we have planted a seed of hope, then we have done our job,” McCall said.