Forbidden Fruit: Black Women and Eating Disorders

(“Black Ana on Scale-1969” by Tiffany Gholar, Flickr, Creative Commons)

(“Black Ana on Scale-1969” by Tiffany Gholar, Flickr, Creative Commons)

Typically, when we think about those that suffer from eating disorders the image of young, privileged, white females clouds our minds. This stereotype prevails due to the vast amount of literature and media that reflects Western mainstream thin ideals that are often portrayed by White women. Narratives of how young women of color are supposedly not affected by White beauty ideals and the lack of diversity on informational resources and eating disorder treatment facility web pages help paint the picture that eating disorders for black and brown women simply do not exist.

Many assume that women of color, specifically Black women are immune to developing eating disorders which can lead to these women being overlooked by friends and family and/or misdiagnosed by physicians. Ultimately, this means not getting the help they need, which increases their mortality and morbidity rates.

Biases within the Black community also contribute to the lack of awareness. With the high rate of obesity in the Black community, worried Black parents often communicate with their daughters about the importance of watching their weight, which unfortunately can lead to an obsession with weight for a young Black girl. However, a common assumption is that black women are more accepting of having a larger body type, especially with the rise of hit songs like Nicki Minaj’s Anaconda.

But what happens when a young Black woman does not fit this voluptuous mold?

Body dissatisfaction and using eating as a coping mechanism can develop in response to not fitting into this mold. Women of color that are highly acculturated, or have adopted the beliefs and values of Western culture, have been found to have a greater risk of developing an eating disorder.

For Black women on a predominately White campus, identifying with White standards of beauty may lead to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

Black women are often underrepresented in eating disorder research and often times the signs and symptoms of eating disorders are unknown within the Black community. So, it may seem like Black women affected by the disease aren’t a significant problem when compared to White women. However, Black women have been found to suffer just as much from Binge Eating Disorder as White and Latina women.

Eating disorders are so often suffered in secrecy, so this February while observing National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, let’s keep in mind that one of the biggest kept secrets of this disease is that it does not discriminate against anyone.

If you or someone you know struggles with food and/or body image concerns be sure to check out Nutrition Services, Campus Health and/or CAPS.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week Events

February 23-28 is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. This week, there are plenty of events and conversations going on around campus, organized by groups like Campus Recreation, Embody Carolina, Carolina Dining Services, and Campus Health Services, as well as Interactive Theater Carolina and Student Wellness.

These events intend to illuminate the prevalence and severity of eating disorders and improve our understanding of their triggers and the ways we can help, while also increasing access to resources, promoting body love, and creating a more supportive environment for those struggling with an eating disorder.

All week, several campus partners and groups will be pit-sitting from 10am-2pm. Each day focuses on a different theme — Monday is “Pledge in the Pit,” Tuesday is “Busting the Gender Myth,” Thursday is “Forget the F-Word,” and Friday is “Photo Campaign.”

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, Interactive Theater Carolina’s “What Are You Looking At?” program is back by popular demand! This interactive performance is focused around conversations about body image and the media. More information here!

Tuesday, February 24, Student Wellness will host a media literacy workshop focused around body image. Join us in a discussion around the media we consume and how it affects our attitudes about body image, race, and gender and learn how to critically analyze the media in your life!

Here is a calendar of other events this week!:


Learn more at!

WORKOUT WEDNESDAY: Celebrating the Lives of Our Three Winners and Our Beloved Dean Smith

In light of this emotionally taxing and shocking week, I felt that it would be unfit to pretend that today is just another Friday for another health or fitness article typical of the Tar Heel Tone Up. Instead, I’d like to write about some things that we have all felt and learned this week from the loss of four members of the Carolina community.
As we are all already far too aware, three members of the Carolina and greater Triangle community were killed in Chapel Hill this week on Tuesday night. Deah Shaddy Barakat, a UNC dental student, his wife Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, a recent graduate of NC State University and an incoming UNC dental student, and Yusor’s sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, a sophomore design student at NC State, were the victims of the terrible crime.
In all seriousness, and I promise that this is relevant, one of my favorite quotes comes from the book “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” In his address to the students of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore says: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” While this certainly is one of the darkest of times for our community, and especially for the close friends and family of the victims, there have been so many who have had the strength to find and share happiness and light in the midst of this heavy darkness we face. I admire their fortitude, courage, and faith. Following are some of the words that have inspired us the most:

“I think we would all encourage people to not have those feelings [about the crime] pushing toward hate but toward cooperation and understanding and love. That’s really what Deah and Yusor and Razan would have wanted.”
-Maryam Ahmed, friend of Yusor and Razan Abu-Salha.
“ All of us belong to God, and to Him we will return.”
-Omar Rezk, friend of Deah, quoting a verse (Surat Al-Baqarah 2:156) often said in the Muslim community when someone passes.
[About Deah]: “He was a lovely, compassionate human being. Every time he saw me, he gave me a hug and a smile. He knew I was Jewish; I knew he was Muslim. It didn’t matter.”
-Jay Mosesson, Physical Therapist, UNC Hospital Spine Center
 “Do not fight fire with fire. Do not reply to ignorance with ignorance.”…
“Praise be to God. We say that in good and in bad, knowing that God is the most wise. We depend on God the wise in this time.”…
“Life is a bridge. You odn’t want to build on the bridge; you want to build when you get there. They got to their destination. They are home. He beat me home.”
-Farris Barakat, Deah Barakat’s older brother at Wednesdays’ vigil.
“They loved each other—and not in the classic, ‘That’s a little much, get a room’ sense. They just made the other person light up. They were great together. The combination of them was even better than the things you heard about them separately.”
-Abdul Salem, longtime friend of Deah

Amidst all of the pain of this incomprehensible tragedy, it may seem almost strange to speak about the fact that we lost not three, but four members of our Carolina and world community this week. On Saturday night, the beloved Dean Smith, former UNC men’s basketball head coach from 1960-1997, passed away in his home, surrounded by his family of his wife and five children.

Photo courtesy of UNC Student, Victor Sanchez.
The circumstances of their deaths are so different, it almost seems wrong to sum them into one group of loss. Deah, Yusor, and Razan were young, healthy students. They were on promising and fast-paced journeys to success and adventure, and Deah and Yusor were newly married. Their lives were taken swiftly and harshly, without warning and without answers. Dean Smith, on the other hand, lived a long life full of countless notable successes. Not only was he one of the most known and loved basketball coaches in the country, but he was also a civil rights activist and great teacher. In a statement about Dean Smith’s passing, President Obama pointed out that Dean Smith graduated 96% of this players, taught them to point at the person who had passed them the ball when they made a basket, and showed us all how to fight a terrible illness with “courage and dignity.”
With such different circumstances of death, why do I speak of the deaths of Deah, Yusor, Razan, and Dean Smith together?
I do this because the loss of these individuals revealed the character and unity of the Triangle community this week in a way that amazed me. Between us Tarheels here at UNC, those wolves at NC State, and those Demon Deacons eight miles away, we talk a lot of smack about each other. In the events of this week, however, we came together when it really mattered. Students and community members celebrated the life of Dean Smith down at the Dean Dome on Sunday night and Coach K even wore a Carolina Blue tie to his funeral, for heaven’s sake. I never thought I would say it, but that man earned some major respect points from me for doing that. On Wednesday night, thousands of students and community members filled the pit and the quad to remember Deah, Yusor, and Razan. Only one of the three was a student here, and most people outside of the dental school never had a chance to meet him, but at the vigil, it felt like they were all UNC students that we had lost. There were students from all three Triangle schools here, standing together to mourn our collective loss and to realize and remember that it doesn’t matter what shade of blue (or red) we wear in times like these, but it matters that we are all people and that the lives of every single kind of person matter equally.
Surely this has been a week of so much loss, but I have witnessed so much strength and beauty in it as well. May we remember the lives of Deah, Yusor, Razan, and Dean Smith as examples for our own, and may we all remember and learn to love other despite any differences we may have. Life isn’t easy and life isn’t fair and there are a lot of things about it that I don’t understand, but I do know that it is still a beautiful life.
The quotes used in this blog came from the individuals who spoke at the vigil held on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday, February 11, at 6:30pm. Additional quotes came from articles featured in The Daily Tar Heel on Thursday, February 12, 2015. Specifically, quotes were pulled from the following articles:
Deah: “People really loved the guy.” Written by Zoe Shaver, Assistant City Editor.
“He beat me home.” Written by Claire Nielsen, Assistant City Editor.
“A Triple Tragedy.” Written by Holly West, City Editor.

Compete to WIN a $1,000 GRAND Prize at LDOC HeelFest–Auditions start this Week…

That’s RIGHT–your or your student group could win $1,000 at the very first LDOC HeelFest!!!

LDOC HeelFest will be an end-of-year talent show extravaganza. This is the first year UNC is doing this event and it is a collaboration among multiple campus departments and student groups. It will be held at Ehringhaus Field from 4-8pm on LDOC, which is Friday April 24th. The talent show will feature a showcase of UNC student talent, and the students at the event will get to vote on the winning performer/group. The Grand Prize will be a cash amount, TBD.

Come to auditions this week and next…Let’s see what you got!

LDOC HeelFest audition schedule

LDOC HeelFest audition schedule

Wake Up To Music

Alarm Clock 3

Photo: “Alarm Clock 3.” Alan Cleaver. Flickr Creative Commons.

Today I woke up to the sound of music. I’m not talking about Julie Andrews in Austria. I’m talking about my alarm. It wasn’t a terrible beeping, though. I hate those types of alarms. They scare me out of bed and put me into a panic. I would always be waking up thinking I was late. My morning monologue was something like “holy crap”, “this sucks”, “why me?”. I would feel resentful and annoyed. It wasn’t until I started waking up to more peaceful kinds of music that I noticed how that was really affecting me. Those blaring alarms were actually affecting the way I experienced my entire day. I would see class as a chore and a burden. I would feel rushed to the point where I would either physically speed around to get myself ready, out the door, and to wherever I needed to be, or I would become insufferably slow, as though I was at a silent protest against the morning.

So I changed my routine. What a relief! It’s way better, trust me. Music soothes me awake, just as it used to soothe me to sleep. Though, I guess it depends on the kind of music you choose to wake up to. Hold on, people, we’re about to take a step into the world of science (and by science, I mean YouTube). Click here (don’t listen to the whole thing)—>>>> .

Welcome back. So, that was kind of nice, huh? That’s the kind of soothing I’m talking about. That can get me through the day. It sets the pace for me. Okay, let’s imagine how music is used in film. Without music, some of the most terrible, scary movies would be only mildly frightening and even humorous in some cases. The music in suspense/horror flicks is intended to affect my breathing, heart rate and ultimately my emotional response. It causes me to react with fear.

Where am I going with this? Good question… What I’m getting at is this: how can we become more aware of our emotions? Better yet, will becoming more aware of our emotions allow us to practice a certain level of control over them? For example, I like being happy, content and excited over being angry, afraid or sad. Knowing that, what is one way I can set myself up to experience more of the emotions that I prefer to experience?

If I want to feel happiness, I can listen to some Sara Bareilles or Jason Mraz. If I want to feel calm and motivated, I listen to some classical guitar music. That’s just me. But seriously, there are physical and emotional responses to musical stimuli. If you’re interested in exploring the topic in greater depth, do some research into music psychology and mood regulation. Check out some books from the library, listen to music, make music, share music and study music. And visit my favorite source of science… YouTube!

Start your day off right. Get your heart beating to the rhythm of your choice. Your emotional wellbeing is important and it could affect others as well, and may ultimately have an impact on the Carolina community. So, be conscious, deliberate, and systematic in your music choices.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” -Billy Joel

Jazz Band

Photo: “Jazz Band.” Kevin Dooley.

Safe Sparks: How to Find Your Online Match

"Dating Online" by whybealone1, Flickr Creative Commons

“Dating Online” by whybealone1, Flickr Creative Commons eHarmony. Tinder. OkCupid. Coffee Meets Bagel. Over the past few years, all of these online dating websites have gained members. Online dating has become increasingly more common, especially among millennials. According to one study, 22% of Americans ages 25-34 have used an online dating website. Do people find their soul mate online? The data is unclear, but lots of people definitely meet people online, for friendship, relationships, and/or sex.

Meeting up with someone for the first time can be scary or intimidating, but it can also be a lot of fun! Here are some tips to make the most out of your online dating experiences:

  • Be careful what information you put online. It’s not recommended to put your last name, address, or work online since anyone can access it. Only share your phone number with people whom you plan to get to know better or meet up with.
  • It’s a good idea to chat online or on the phone (or even facetime!) before you meet. This way you can see if you want to meet up with them rather than arriving for a date and realizing then that they seem sketchy.
  • Meet in a public place, such as a coffee shop, for a first date. It’s not recommended to meet for the first time at someone’s apartment, dorm, or house.
  • Arrange your own transportation. This way you can leave at any point and won’t have to depend on the person to get you home.
  • Let a friend or two know where you are going ahead of time and who you are meeting up with. It can be a good idea to have a friend call or text you at some point to give you an “out” in case you want to leave. You can have a code word or just say that your friend needs you.
  • If you plan on hooking up or having sex, discuss expectations ahead of time. Discuss contraception and barrier methods (such as condoms and dental dams), comfort level with certain acts, and what you expect out of the meet up. Know that you can change your mind at any point in time, and you never have to do something you are uncomfortable or unsure about. Consent is required for all sexual acts.
  • Trust your intuition. If you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, trust that feeling. Never feel guilty for stopping communication with someone who doesn’t make you feel good.

Coffee Shops… Everywhere!

The other day I was walking to campus and noticed a change in the landscape. Caribou Coffee is closed! To be specific, the Caribou Coffee on East Franklin Street closed, but the Caribou Coffee on West Franklin Street is still open. This sudden closure of a long-standing student hangout and study spot inspired me to look around at all the other café options we have in our area.

Downtown Chapel Hill, NC on Franklin Street.

“Downtown Chapel Hill” by Tom, Flickr Creative Commons.

Coffee shops are a staple of most college towns, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro community is no exception. A simple Google search — or better yet, a stroll around campus down Franklin Street and onto Main Street in Carrboro — reveals a plethora of coffee shop options for students, faculty, and staff alike. Our little slice of North Carolina is a virtual coffee shop metropolis!

After realizing there were so many to choose from, I spent a couple days informally polling folks around the Student Wellness office to see what their favorite spots were in town. There were no clear winners, but lots of great options to choose from. Check out some of the results below!

Cup of coffee surrounded by coffee beans.

“Coffee” by jaci XIII, Flcikr Creative Commons.

When asked who has the best cup of coffee, drip for drip, folks around our office suggested checking out:

Open Eye Café (Carrboro)

Joe Van Gogh (Chapel Hill)

Jessee’s (Carrboro)

When asked what’s the best place to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee, including atmosphere, people, and ambiance, our staff likes to frequent:

Caffé Driade (Chapel Hill)

Oasis (Carrboro)

Kipos Greek Taverna (Chapel Hill)

Cafe with barista working.

“Cafe Milo Amsterdam” by Vincicius Rebecchi, Flickr Creative Commons

This is just the tip of the iced-coffee iceberg! There are so many great spots to choose from on campus, in Chapel Hill, and in Carrboro. Let us know your favorite spots in the comments section!

So the next time you are looking for a quick pick-me-up, a savory latte, or just a nice place to relax, study, or hang out with a friend, consider one of our local area’s great selection of coffee shops!

For more information on the health benefits of coffee and other caffeinated drinks check out one of our old blog posts, “Coffee – Good for You?”

For more information on the history of coffee and coffee houses around the world, check out this interesting article from the BBC, “Coffee and qahuwa: How a drink for Arab mystics went global.”