This is what I felt like on Thursday night, around 11pm:
On Tuesday, I had the awesome opportunity to be the featured speaker at a Positive Body Image Seminar, hosted by George Mason University's Panhellenic. I had reached out to the Executive Board, and specifically Emily, their Vice President of Programming earlier this year, and Emily put together this awesome event. I spoke and others set up booths for women to visit. Nearly 500 women attended, and we had an hour and a half long conversation about positive (and negative) body image, disordered eating, and dieting.
I was inspired by the courage of women who shared their own stories, and I found strength in the reception I got from sharing my story. The questions at the end were thoughtful, and I loved how engaged everyone was using Twitter -- I opened up my Twitter to questions and comments throughout the event because, let's face it, if people are on their smart phones for any other reason but to tweet at me, I'm not doing my job.
A few people approached me at the end of the night with some feedback, and I thought it was really outstanding, so I don't want to wait until the next time I speak to share a few more pieces of information:
- First, I was approached by Corey, who asked me to focus more on eating healthier in order to be happier. She's so right, and I can't believe I failed to make this statement during my presentation. Exercising and choosing to eat healthy foods -- to eat more fruits and vegetables, add in more lean protein and whole grains, even to enjoy the occasional cookie -- makes you a happier person. You're happier because you feel better when you treat your body right. I talk a lot about how dieting makes you unhappy because it's a constant mindset of deprivation, but I failed to mention that "anti-dieting" -- that is, adopting a healthy food philosophy rather than a list of things you can't eat -- will make you both happier and healthier.
- Next, one of the campus nutritionists spoke to me, and asked that I add in more information about the mental implications of eating disorders. If you are or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek professional help. Eating disorders are the most fatal mental illnesses, with some studies reporting that nearly 30% result in death. If nothing else, please point them in the direction of nationaleatingdisorders.org, which has a live anonymous helpline.
- Lastly, I spoke with Kathleen, who works with the "Perfect Body Project." They are working to organize "No Makeup Monday," which I'll post more about this weekend. You should participate, though, by wearing -- you guessed it -- no makeup on Monday. Take a picture of yourself and post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #nomakeupmonday.