Every morning, hundreds of students at Hamilton wake up and look in the mirror. But for some, that seemingly mundane daily ritual brings anxiety, guilt, pain, fear and emptiness. In the mirror, they are invisible; all they can see are the problems their eating disorders see.
Last evening, members of the Hamilton College National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW) committee sought to combat eating disorders with a unique approach: making everyone invisible. With the help of more than 50 student volunteers, the committee covered every public mirror on campus with paper bearing both positive messages about body consciousness and information about the devastating impact of eating disorders.
Today’s “Mirror-less Monday” has sparked confusion, frustration and questions but, more importantly, open discussion about the prevalence of eating disorders among the Hamilton community. While the day has come as a surprise to much of the campus, the administration, faculty and staff have provided a great deal of support leading up to the week, recognizing that events such as these are valuable experiences of learning outside the classroom.
Mirrors are a concrete symbol of the ways in which we hold our bodies to standards set by others. But going “mirror-less” is not only empowering for those with eating disorders; we can all do with a day off from self-evaluation and criticism, a chance to silence the voice in our heads that says we are not good enough. Hamilton students seem to have gotten the message. Many of the bathrooms have remained “mirror-less” throughout the day. It has been a day to be content with our bodies, just as they are.