Love Fest raises eating disorder awareness

Allison Mueller

On Wednesday, Feb. 24 Winona State set up “Love Fest” with booths about body image, stress release and eating disorders, in occasion of “National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.” (Photo by Sara Tiradossi)
On Wednesday, Feb. 24 Winona State set up “Love Fest” with booths about body image, stress release and eating disorders, in occasion of “National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.” (Photo by Sara Tiradossi)

Sara Tiradossi / Winonan

Eating disorders affect over 30 million Americans, and 200,000 of them are in the state of Minnesota, according to the Emily Program Foundation, with anorexia having the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Winona State University recognized National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, a national campaign to raise awareness surrounding eating disorders, by hosting Love Fest on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Love Fest gathered different groups and clubs on campus, such as the students Health and Wellness advocates, Her Campus, and a group of students from a health communications class, and others to raise awareness about body image at Winona State.

A quote displayed at the fest read, “We can’t always eliminate the stress in our life, but we can learn to deal with it in a healthier way.” Epitomizing this idea, first-year student Jackson Ramsland said Love Fest serves to remind students of the importance of having a healthy and positive body image, especially with how critical time can be.

Health and Wellness promotion coordinator Kathryn Hansen said the university has subscribed to a confidential and anonymous screening tool—that only takes about three minutes—for students to discover specific symptoms they might have.

“What we’re saying through our activities today is that three minutes can save a life,” Ramsland said.

The screening process can connect students to counseling services provided by Winona State, listing the symptoms to help put the needs of the student into perspective.

The screening is meant to catch risk factors early, so the factors do not manifest into further conditions, which hinders their performance as students and their development as a human, Hansen said.

Sophomore Karly Malizia said the booths display information on healthy behaviors, how stress affects the body and awareness to eating disorders.

“We have created a stress board with tips on what students can do to reduce stress on a physical and mental level,” Malizia said.

Hansen also said eating disorders are the mostly deadly mental health conditions out there. She explained how Love Fest is an attempt to make a change.

“Love Fest is a celebration of everything regarding stress management, self-esteem, body image and eating disorders,” Hansen said.

According to Hansen, the celebration featured an arts and crafts section to remind students of their self-worth.

“Students are able to decorate compact mirrors as a reminder that their self esteem shouldn’t come from outside reflections but internally, and other resources to help students under stress,” Hansen said.

The event also had a setup display of the history of the bikini and swimwear over the years, including its history in the U.S.

“We want to show the media’s impact and society’s impact as a whole throughout the years on our culture, views on body image and self esteem and what we think as beautiful also,” Hansen said.

By hosting Love Fest, groups within the Winona State community are promoting their commitment to healthy lifestyles and well-being.