Discussing disordered behaviors can be a scary and daunting task, but the Perfect Illusions candlelight vigil provides a safe place for sharing.  The annual event promotes awareness about eating and body image disorders and allows audience members to share their own experiences through an open-mic format in a healing and supportive environment.

It is powerful. It is engaging. It is inspiring.

This year’s Perfect Illusions Candlelight Vigil will take place at 6pm on November 13, 2013 in the Kaleidoscope Room at Newcomb Hall.

A survey of women on college campuses revealed some sobering facts:

  • Approximately 60 percent of college-aged women have disordered eating.
  • A whopping 91 percent have tried dieting.
  • Of women aged 15 to 64, 67 percent admit to shying away from public activities due to their own negative feelings about their bodies.
  • The National College Health Assessment revealed that 1 in 5 college students have considered their appearance traumatic or difficult to handle.

Tragically, so many suffer in silence, but the Women’s Center and the U.Va. Coalition on Eating Disorders and Exercise Concerns have opened the dialogue.  Their focus is to help students at the University of Virginia improve their relationships with food, exercise and body image.

The event is open to all members of the community and will include professionals from Counseling and Psychological Services to provide information and support regarding the available resources on Grounds.

The Women’s Center’s Eating Disorders Education Initiative (EDEI) Coordinator Amy Chestnutt has been instrumental in raising awareness about these issues and brings valuable experience to addressing this important issue.  In the fall of 2011, she spoke at the National Eating Disorders Association Conference in Los Angeles, CA and, along with Women’s Center intern Sarah Murphy and Director of Counseling Services Charlotte Chapman, presented a poster at the Renfrew Center Foundation Conference in Philadelphia, PA.  The Women’s Center’s Body Positive, evidence-based approach was highlighted at both events.

The program’s influential national model has improved the flow of communication with U.Va. students.  More than half received information from the University about eating disorders whereas only 28 percent of the national reference group could say the same.  The Women’s Center is committed to continuing to support, educate and inform.

Please join us at this year’s vigil!