Editor's note: This article discusses eating disorders and may be triggering to some readers.
Embody Carolina is looking beyond eating disorders in an attempt to combat the root of the problem: fatphobia.
During their Tuesday event Embracing Fat Activism in the Wide Scope of Disordered Eating, members of Embody Carolina, a Campus Y organization focused on body positivity and raising awareness for disordered eating, explored how the organization is reclaiming the word “fat.”
The event touched on the harm of diet culture, the fear of “fat” as a concept and the lack of diversity in the conversation surrounding body positivity and fatphobia.
“We believe that fat is not a bad word,” Ashley Broadwater, co-chair of Embody Carolina, said. “We want people to realize that it’s just a descriptor.”
Broadwater also emphasized that the organization is trying to focus their efforts on introducing inclusivity into the conversation of disordered eating.
“The people who get researched and get support and who are generally believed to have eating disorders tend to be thin, white females,” Broadwater said. “But eating disorders affect all demographics.”
Maggie Helmke, a member of the Embody Carolina executive board, also said the purpose of the event is to recognize thin privilege in the conversation of body positivity.
“Fatphobia is such a problem here,” Helmke said about UNC. “It’s so ingrained in everybody’s psyche, it’s almost something you can’t get away from.”
Katie Regittko, the social media coordinator for Embody Carolina, said the organization is trying to show what it means to be “fat” at UNC.
“Fat is just a body type,” Regittko said. “It doesn’t really have any effect on your health, or your personality, or anything else.”
Regittko said that she regularly hears fatphobic comments around campus, specifically in the dining halls. Regittko said these comments usually come in the form of people assigning moral value to food or wondering if they “deserve” to eat certain foods.
“People use fatness as humor, too,” Regittko said. “People joking about how they’re fat when they eat a sweet food makes being fat the butt of a joke for thin people, but it’s seen as a monstrous thing for fat people.”
Embracing Fat Activism in the Wide Scope of Disordered Eating was an event put on specifically by Embody Carolina to try to dispel different myths about being fat, including that it inherently means a person is less healthy.
“We see a lot of stuff about the obesity epidemic, and it’s really medicalized,” Regittko said.
Embody Carolina is trying to work towards a change in culture regarding how people talk about their own bodies and the bodies of others.
To help combat this problem, Embody Carolina offers trainings and body positive events that attempt to dispel myths about fatness and try to break the stigma surrounding eating disorders.
“‘Fat’ has been used so often in the past as a derogatory term,” Regittko said. “But in reality, it’s just an adjective.”
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