A recap of the “Mythbusters: Dismantling Stereotypes of Eating Disorders” events hosted by the Wellness Center

The Wellness Center’s ED Mythbusters set up a table on Caf Lane. Photos Credit to Madison Lasus.

Throughout the week before spring break, the Wellness Center hosted four events that were part of a series called “Mythbusters: Dismantling Stereotypes of Eating Disorders.” These events were created in honor of Eating Disorder Awareness Week, which lasted from Feb. 26 to March 3rd. Each event had a distinct focus on a common eating disorder myth and sought to educate students on the truth behind these stereotypes. The Point spoke with Wellness Center interns and faculty, as well as event leaders to learn more about their intended goals for each event. 

Monday, Feb. 26: Expert Panel at 12 p.m. in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) to bust the myth that “All Eating Disorders Look The Same”

On Monday, the Wellness Center brought in an expert panel to share their personal experiences with eating disorders and answer anonymous questions submitted by students. There were five panel leaders present at the event: Crystal Karges, Carrie Gunn, Alyssa Dahlberg, Marsha Hubbard and Ashleigh Jameson. The Point spoke with panelist Crystal Karges to gain her insight into why eating disorder stereotypes are so prevalent in society and how this event can help present authentic perspectives to students.

TP: Why do you think there are so many stereotypes about eating disorders in our society and how do these stereotypes influence how people think about eating disorders? 

CK: There are multiple factors that lead to stereotypes and misunderstandings about eating disorders. This includes things like mainstream media, which often perpetuates myths about who develops eating disorders or what they look like. Societal ideals of beauty and appearance can also contribute to stereotypes about eating disorders and the people they affect when in reality, they can impact individuals of any age, gender, race or body size. Generally, there is a lack of education about eating disorders, which can reinforce stereotypes to make sense of something that isn’t fully understood. 

Stereotyping eating disorders can lead to many negative consequences. For example, if eating disorders are perceived to only affect a certain type of person, this can make it harder for individuals who don’t fit the stereotype to recognize their own struggles or seek help. Someone who doesn’t fit the stereotype may also be less likely to be taken seriously by healthcare providers or may struggle to find treatment options tailored to their needs. Stereotypes can also unfairly place “blame” on the individual for their eating disorder, rather than acknowledging the complex factors that influence the development of these conditions. This can be a major factor for shame, which again, makes it harder to reach out for help.

TP: How do you believe this week’s events are helping to shift students’ perspectives on eating disorders?

CK: Eating disorders, or the wide spectrum of disordered eating, can be more common than you might think. You might be aware that you or someone you care for is struggling with a difficult relationship with food or your body yet feel unsure what to do about it. Public events, like those happening at PLNU during eating disorder awareness week, can feel like a safer, non-pressure way to access information and resources. This can be an important first step toward help and healing. These events are also helpful in breaking through some of the barriers and stereotypes around eating disorders, which is crucial in fostering understanding, empathy and effective support for those affected.

Tuesday, Feb. 27: 9-11 a.m. in the lower level of Nicholson Commons, busting the myth of the “Instagram Diet” and educating students on Diet and Wellness Culture

On Tuesday, Wellness Center interns discussed the topic of the “Instagram Diet” with students. The Point interviewed Wellness Center intern and fourth-year dietetics major Anna Clancy to learn more about the harmful effects of social media and how it contributes to the spread of eating disorders and negative stigmas. 

TP: How is social media affecting our perceptions of eating disorders? How is it contributing to stereotypes and misinformation?

AC: I think social media can promote the false idea that all eating disorders look the same. Typically eating disorders are presented in the media as affecting young white women who are very underweight, and I think this stereotyping of eating disorders prevents many from reaching out for help. These conditions can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, body size, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Our event titled “Busting the Myth of the Instagram Diet,” aimed to inform students about some of the most common diet myths promoted by social media, such as “you can tell by looking at someone’s body size if they have an eating disorder,” and “going on a little diet is harmless.”

TP: How has social media contributed to the large rise in eating disorders? 

AC: Social media influencers portray unrealistic expectations of how our bodies are supposed to look, which has contributed to our culture’s obsession with dieting and thinness. Many influencers also promote diets and harmful dieting behaviors that are not sustainable in the long term, and often end up vilifying and restricting entire food groups, such as carbohydrates. I think social media can make it challenging for individuals to identify the harmful messages and behaviors of diet culture because influencers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok promote and normalize many of these harmful behaviors under the guise of “wellness culture.”

TP: How are individuals impacted by “diet and wellness culture”? 

AC: Diet and wellness culture promotes very rigid diet and lifestyle rules and practices that leave little room for reality and leave folks feeling guilty for being unable to stick to these unrealistic principles. Inferring that you have to eat perfectly to be healthy or that the answer to body image issues is to go on a diet does a great disservice to those who are already struggling with their relationship with food. 

Wednesday, Feb. 28: 10:30 a.m. on Caf Lane, busting the myth of what “A Healthy Body Looks Like” 

On Wednesday, Wellness Center interns set up a stand on Caf Lane and tied several mirrors to the sides. Passing students were encouraged to write encouraging affirmations on the mirrors for their peers with colored markers. The Point interviewed Wellness Center intern and Clinical Counseling masters student Ashleigh Jameson to learn more about the purpose behind this interactive event. 

TP: How do you believe today’s event helped students feel affirmed in their bodies?  

AJ: I loved today’s event because students had the opportunity to practice positive self-talk and affirmations while seeing their reflections. It empowered the students to connect directly with positive affirmations about themselves. It warmed my heart to witness the students writing and reading affirmations. The students’ involvement demonstrated their support and journey toward self-love, acceptance and body positivity. This event promoted agency and empowered students to love themselves and their bodies more.

TP: Going forward, how can our community here at PLNU help our peers to feel affirmed and supported in their bodies?

AJ: As a Point Loma community, it would be important to encourage inclusive language that embraces body diversity, respecting all body types, appearances and sizes. We should actively avoid body shaming and work on challenging stereotypes. It’s essential to encourage attendance to educational events focused on topics like eating disorders in order to enhance body awareness. We need individuals on campus and faculty to provide a non-judgmental space for students to discuss body-related concerns openly.

Thursday, Feb. 29th: Watch Party from 5:30-7 p.m. in the ARC 

For the final event, the Wellness Center hosted a watch party for the film “Mind Over Mirrors: Dismantling Stereotypes of ED.” The film showcased three different speakers who discussed their experiences of struggling with an eating disorder. The event was led by Carrie Gunn (also a panelist for Monday’s event) who serves as the PLNU campus dietician. The Point spoke with her in an interview to gain her perspective on why this film is important to show to students and how it can help shift the narrative of eating disorder stereotypes. 

TP: In what ways is this film educating students about the reality of eating disorders? 

CG: I loved the theme “Dismantling Stereotypes Of Eating Disorders” and my hope was to provide an outside speaker who could speak to the importance of this. If we have in mind only a single lens for what a person with an eating disorder looks and acts like, we may miss caring for so many who are struggling with one. Men in particular are often missed. People with average or even larger-sized bodies are also often overlooked & may not go for the treatment they need.

TP: Why do you believe it is important to show this film to students? 

CG: I strived to engage students throughout the week in multiple ways to bring information that can raise this awareness. The video featured three real-life stories of young people who experienced and healed from their eating disorders. Stories are so powerful and they were all very different in terms of the journeys that resulted in their eating disorder and how they came to treatment. I hope it was interesting and enlightening to students to hear these stories, and perhaps they found a way to relate, either personally or because of a friend.


These four events helped to shine a light on the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding eating disorders in an effort to promote open and inclusive conversations and remove the stigma from our campus culture. 

The Wellness Center also recently hosted an event called “Faith and Body Image” on March 14 in the ARC. This event navigated the topic of body image and its application in science as well as scripture.