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Embody Carolina aims to empower students during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Colleen Daly discusses her journey in creating Embody Carolina, an organization on campus to help students struggling with eating disorders.
Colleen Daly discusses her journey in creating Embody Carolina, an organization on campus to help students struggling with eating disorders.

“We are not a support group,” co-chairperson Rebecca Hoffman said. “We are an advocacy and education group.”

Hoffman said the organization’s primary way of educating people is through public training sessions. These sessions teach participants what eating disorders are, how to spot their symptoms in friends, how to approach these friends and how to assist them in recovery.

This week’s sessions focus on identities that are traditionally underrepresented when talking about eating disorders.

On Tuesday, Embody Carolina held a panel in the Student Union, and on Thursday they will be sponsoring a screening of the documentary “Miss Representation.”

“Identities like people of color, men and members of the LGBTQ community are not usually thought to be affected by eating disorders,” Hoffman said. “We’re trying to break these stereotypes that only young, white, wealthy women get eating disorders, because that’s not the case at all.”

Embody has recently been working with UNC to change material in LFIT classes that could be triggering, such as requiring students to weigh themselves.

Each fall, the organization holds Southern Smash, a scale-smashing event on campus meant to promote body image confidence.

Brooke Wheeler, a first-year psychology major, said she has personally experienced an eating disorder. She joined Embody Carolina this year to use her experience to help other people.

“I just want to promote recovery to anyone that’s struggling because eating disorders are very prevalent on college campuses,” Wheeler said. “By sharing my story, I’m able to help others who may be struggling but are scared to seek help because they’ll be judged.”

Colleen Daly, a 2013 graduate who helped start Embody Carolina, said she thinks the group has come a long way since first being established at the University.

“I am just so incredibly impressed by the activism, the passion, the energy and the thought these students have brought to Embody,” Daly said. “When we were there it was more about getting it off the ground with training students. What it is now is a force to be reckoned with.”

Daly said she thinks Embody Carolina can have an impact beyond addressing eating disorders.

“What I want students to learn from Embody is that they are worthy simply for being themselves,” Daly said.

“In seemingly insignificant moments, we are capable of making the greatest change when it comes to our friends.”

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