Mocktails and mental health

The UW Women&rsquo;s Centre recently presented Mocktails and Mental Health, an event to raise awareness on eating disorders. Accompanied with drinks and vegan food, attendees dropped in for a viewing of <em>Thin</em>, an HBO film that documents four women as they work towards recovery from serious eating disorders. Other activities included a button-making station and a cathartic exercise where participants were encouraged to throw darts at balloons filled with paint on a canvas that had been written on with body-negative put-downs.

Karissa Shillingford, a Women&rsquo;s Centre co-ordinator, was part of the organizing team for last Friday&rsquo;s event. She clarified that although eating disorders bring to mind girls with rail-thin figures and baggy clothes, those with eating disorders often do not have the body type associated with anorexia. Eating disorders encompass a wide variety of behavioral issues as a result of an unhealthy relationship with food and appear in men and women.

For those without first-person experience with an eating disorder, recognizing one in someone else is nearly impossible. One way to be supportive of someone who might have an eating disorder is to discourage body-negative language.

Shillingford raised a point on everyone&rsquo;s responsibility to cultivate a healthy self image because it can affect how we treat others.

&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s about separating your own emotions from other people and not projecting how you feel onto other people. Say, for example, if I&rsquo;m feeling really gross about myself then maybe I&rsquo;ll [be] angry when I see someone who is not. When we feel a certain way, we take it out on the world,&rdquo; she said.

What Shillingford said brings to mind an anecdote involving Dita Von Teese, the celebrated burlesque dancer. Once a fan greeted Dita at one of her shows, only to say to Dita,&ldquo;You know, you&rsquo;re not even that pretty,&rdquo; to which Dita replied: &ldquo;I know! Isn&rsquo;t it great?&rdquo; Dita in numerous interviews has confessed that although she is considered a sex symbol, she is, in her words, a &ldquo;created&rdquo; beauty. And her version of what it means to be beautiful is just a commitment to glamour, a commitment to be the best self she can be, on a daily basis.

The Women&rsquo;s Centre is currently organizing running a toiletries drive. They are accepting new bras, underwear, tampons, towels, pillows, and toiletries to be donated to two local women&rsquo;s shelters, Mary&rsquo;s Place and Anselma House.

Although anything is appreciated, keep in mind women&rsquo;s shelters receive plenty of clothing donations. Shillingford mentioned that Value Village allows women who are staying at the shelters to shop for free. The best things to donate to women&rsquo;s shelters are pillows and towels.

&ldquo;There are a lot of misconceptions around what people think they should donate. [For] people who are travelling from shelter to shelter, to have your own pillow? That is one of the best gifts.&rdquo;

All donations can be dropped off at the Women&rsquo;s Centre office in the SLC at 2101.


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