Downtown campus hosts eating disorder panel discussion for Body Pride Week

Three panelists shared about eating disorders at a discussion on Wednesday. The event conveniently falls into ASU's Body Pride Week. (Alexandra Scoville/DD)
Three panelists shared about eating disorders at a discussion on Wednesday. The event conveniently falls into ASU’s Body Pride Week. (Alexandra Scoville/DD)

The Downtown campus’ first ever eating disorder panel discussion was held Wednesday as part of Body Pride Week.

Held at the new Post Office Student Center, “Beyond The Mirror: An Eating Disorder Panel Discussion” gave students the opportunity to openly discuss body image and the effects of eating disorders. Three panelists shared their stories of recovery with more than 20 students, parents and faculty.

“It’s not about food,” panelist Bryan Bixler said. “It’s about underlying issues.”

Bixler, 43, is an ecologist who said eating disorders stem from imperfection, denial and self-hate.

“There is a lot of stigma around it, a lot of shame, but this is a serious disease,” Bixler said.

Bixler is currently in recovery from anorexia after nearly losing his life. He has been dealing with the disease since high school. Bixler said he hopes to share his story with as many people as he can and encourage those with eating disorders to seek help.

“You can’t do it on your own,” he said.

Bixler’s story of recovery caught national attention after he made several appearances on the television show “Dr. Oz.”

Joining Bixler on the panel was former professional dancer Diana Dorell.

Dorell, 31, encouraged people to dedicate to themselves a daily commitment of love.

“When you live from your authenticity, miracles can happen,” Dorell said.

Dorell has dealt with issues of body image since her dance career began in seventh grade. She now teaches young dancers to use love and self-appreciation to overcome the mainstream media’s portrayal of dancers, she said.

“Who you are doesn’t have to be shaped by other people’s opinions,” Dorell said in an interview. “The power to change our perception about our bodies is available to us at all times.”

Panelist Rebekah Hart, 30, hopes to further spread her story through her blog, A Faceted Life. She said that individuals should find their greatest strengths and let those strengths be the mantra for everything they do.

Health policy major Monica Moncivaiz, who prefers Denise, said she hopes to see more events like this on campus as she is recovering herself.

“I don’t think I would have ever gone to something like this if it wasn’t so available,” Moncivaiz said. “I felt like it was important for me to come.”

Beyond the Mirror is a key event in ASU’s Body Pride Week, a week dedicated to the promotion of healthy living and wellness resources available to students.

The event was hosted by VitalU, an ASU organization that empowers individuals to live a life of vitality through fundraising, outreach and collaboration.

“Events like this, things that are going to enrich your life and help your life, are really the things that we should be a part of if we want to live those fulfilling lives,” VitalU President Julie Breen said.

Breen said she hopes the event makes students aware of the resources and support system available to them.

“The people involved, whether we’ve struggled or not, we are still there to help,” Breen said.

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