We are so proud and impressed of our women and team members alike who participated in sharing their voices so that schools can administer BMI screening without inflicting unintended harm on students. A big thank you to Primary Therapist Amy Sosa, PsyD for leading the following body image group and guiding this all important advocacy activity.
Oliver Pyatt Centers’ (OPC) philosophy of facilitating mindful and authentic living enables women to establish powerful connections to themselves and others. An important component to the recovery process is advocacy and social justice work. Women sometimes develop eating disorders as a way to cope with feeling silenced, unworthy, or unheard. In recovery, OPC believes in the importance of offering a space for women to advocate for themselves and others. Through addressing core issues that drove individuals’ eating disorder and providing a format to challenge such core issues in the social sphere, women can play a role in giving a voice to the silence. This is exactly what OPC did this week.
In light of recent initiatives by the Eating Disorders Coalition (EDC) to research / raise awareness on the impact of Body Mass Index (BMI) testing in schools, OPC clinicians facilitated activities during weekly Body Image group that centered around ways in which our women are impacted by BMI testing. The group began with a guided imagery in which women visualized a time in which they experienced freedom in their body, a time when negative body image began, and how they currently experience themselves within their body. The women then discussed the experience. Afterwards, facilitators led a discussion on BMI testing. Women were encouraged to reflect on their own experiences of BMI testing by writing down three ways they were impacted by BMI testing. The women then held their writings outward and walked around the room silently witnessing each others’ experiences. There is a lot of power in silently witnessing and being fully present in another person’s experience, and this was no exception. In discussion of the silent witness exercise, women commented that they felt “alone” in their obsession with BMI and that this exercise helped them understand themselves and others in a deeper way. They also commented on a sense of achievement they experienced in being placed in the “low body weight category.” They then discussed ways in which they felt defeated in other areas of their lives, which drove them to look to their weight and BMI as an indicator of success. As an ending to the group, facilitators discussed recent legislation regarding EDC’s initiative to research the impact of BMI testing as well as the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorder Act. Women were invited to write letters to their local congresswomen depicting their experiences with BMI testing and requesting needed change.
You can be a part of this initiative as well. Reflect on ways in which you or loved ones may have been impacted by mandatory BMI testing within schools. We encourage you to write a letter to your local congressman / congresswoman* asking him / her to:
a.) **sign the Dear Colleague letter that Ted Deutch initiated, requesting that the CDC communicate guidance and recommended best practices with the Department of Education, so that schools can administer BMI screening without inflicting unintended harm on students and
b.) **sign as a cosponsor of the Federal Response to Eliminate Eating Disorders Act of 2013, HR 2101.
For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers and newly introduced Embrace, a binge eating recovery program and Clementine, a residential program exclusively for adolescents girls please call 866.511.HEAL (4325), visit our website, subscribe to our blog, and connect with us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.