February 5, 2016 10:58 am
Updated: February 6, 2016 12:54 am

Students shred negative body images, raise awareness about eating disorders

WATCH: Some Saint Mary’s University students are fighting back against body image issues. Alexa Maclean explains how.

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Members of the Saint Mary’s University (SMU) Healthy Minds team lead students in a “shredding” night on Thursday to raise awareness about eating disorders.

“This project pretty much builds on the idea of body image and being comfortable in your own skin,” said Joy Samuel, one of the Healthy Minds coordinators.

They called the event “Reality Check,” hoping to point out that many images portrayed in magazines aren’t realistic of how everyday, non-photoshopped people look.

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“You need to know that you are enough and you are more than what those magazines say that you should be,” Samuel said.

The event was centred around Eating Disorders Awareness, which week runs until February 7. Eating disorders are the deadliest of all mental illnesses, and one in three people don’t recognize warning signs.

Dangerous path of destruction

One of the team members says she has been struggling with depression since being bullied as a child in elementary school. That depression eventually lead her down a dangerous path.

“I was bullied relentlessly, there was no stopping it. I remember the first time somebody grabbed my head and put it in a water fountain and I couldn’t breathe,” said Jamie Pottie, a third-year student at SMU.

Medication she was on for a kidney disorder caused her body to swell. She says it made her a target for more bullying that shattered her self-confidence.

“Everyday I looked in the mirror, and I was big and my whole life I’d always been big, and I just wanted to be small, I wanted to be thin,” said Pottie.

As she entered young adulthood, she was diagnosed with anorexia and her weight dropped to a mere 80 pounds.

“All my family used to ask me, they were like ‘She’s anorexic, there’s something wrong with her,’ and I just couldn’t tell them, I couldn’t,” she said.

She eventually found support and refuge through a variety of mental health resources. The most positive of them all being when she joined the SMU Healthy Minds team.

“I just don’t feel sad anymore. I feel like everyday I have a purpose to come to school and be a mental health advocate,” Pottie said.

The wellness squad works to break down mental health stigma on campus and provide a safe place for other students to seek support.

“We want you to be comfortable with your mental health and we want you to know that everybody’s there to talk to you about it,” said Pottie.

For more information on the team, you can visit their Facebook page. 

© 2016 Shaw Media

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