You are all dressed up and ready to go out, but first you want to take a selfie. So, you strike your best pose, make your irresistible duck face, and view the results. Don’t like the way it turned out? That’s okay. Choose a filter, or even better download one of several apps so that you can photoshop your image to have the perfect body. After a few swipes you finally have, an idealized, unrecognizable image of yourself. Seems harmless, right?
Last week Her Campus recognized and promoted National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. At Northwestern University, we hope to continue to spread awareness about the severity of eating disorders and how everyday habits can reflect negative body image. One example- social media photo editing. It is a simple habit that can prevent the development of a positive body image.
On Thursday, February 26, The Renfrew Center Foundation hoped to tackle the issue of social media photo editing by launching its fourth annual national Throwback Thursday campaign called “Barefaced & Beautiful, Without & Within.” The Renfrew Center Foundation is a national eating disorder treatment center that helps women overcome eating disorders. The foundation was created 30 years ago and is the first treatment center in the country dedicated to only eating disorders. The Renfrew Center Foundation asked men, women, and children to post “throwback” pictures of themselves without any photo retouching or makeup, put why they love the natural image, and use the hashtag #barefacedbeauty.
The purpose of the campaign was to teach people to learn to accept the body that they have and to love their bodies, said Jancey Wickstrom, the 34-year-old from Kent, Ohio who is the site director of the recently opened Renfrew Center in Northbrook, Illinois.
“I think that negative body image can come from many different areas, but I do agree constantly being bombarded by these perfect pictures provides a sense of an ideal that is impossible to meet,” Wickstrom said.
Others have used efforts similar to the Renfrew Center Foundation’s campaign to spread body confidence. Here at Northwestern University, the local sorority chapter Kappa Delta has their sorority members take makeup free pictures when they become a part of the sorority. Actress and singer Demi Lovato still battles with an eating disorder that she sought treatment for in November 2010. Each Monday she posts a picture of herself without makeup and encourages her followers to do the same.
Wickstrom wants everyone to work together to end negative body talk such as “I look so fat,” and to instead focus on the positives and to love your body. During the past week, she delivered speeches to college campuses about recognizing the need for eating disorder treatment.
“The college age is a significant time when eating disorders and body image issues occur,” Wickstrom said. The pressure to transition accompanied with pressures from society are two reasons why college students particularly struggle with eating disorders and body image issues, she said.
The main point Wickstrom stressed was for people who are struggling with an eating disorder or people who think someone they know might suffer from an eating disorder to reach out for help. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 20 percent or women who battle anorexia will die prematurely from complications related to the disorder.
“I think it’s really important especially during Eating Disorder Awareness Week to really focus on the message that eating disorders can feel really isolating and shameful and to get out the message that their recovery is possible. There is hope,” said Wickstrom. She wants people to know that the Renfrew Center is here to help with these issues.