Sometimes, negative body image and mental illness can go hand in hand.
After hearing mental health advocate Amy Waddle share her story during a panel for her General Psychology (PSY 202) class, resident advisor Erin Moore felt inclined to reach out. With the help of Waddle, she then coordinated the “I am Enough: A Body Journey Workshop” event which took place in Sierra Madre Community Center on Friday.
“There is always that stigma that everyone comes into Cal Poly with the ‘Everybody here at Cal Poly is super fit’ mentality,” civil engineering junior Moore said.
This assumption can lead to people comparing themselves to their peers, Moore said. To combat this, she wanted to share what she learned from Waddle’s testimony about believing you are enough.
Waddle founded Dancing with ED, a nonprofit organization which originally focused on the dance community but has expanded to other groups. The organization is dedicated to promoting eating disorder recovery, using the motto, “You don’t have to dance through this alone.”
Waddle, a former ballet dancer, suffered from an eating disorder, among other mental illnesses, after learning she could no longer dance. Years later, she uses the story of her “body journey” as a way to advocate for others.
“I decided to share my story because I felt there was a purpose. I don’t think anything happens by chance or by coincidence,” Waddle said. “For me to go through all of that, just keep it to myself, I just thought, ‘No, this has to be out there.’ Being able to share my story is like going back into the prison and helping other people get out.”
Body journey workshop
During the event on campus, Waddle said she intended to use the “mirror effect.” Her goal is not simply to share her journey, but to help people find a better understanding of themselves and their own journey.
Waddle said she calls it a “journey” because people are constantly evolving and adapting. Accepting change was a theme throughout her presentation. After telling her story, she shared ways to develop an “I am enough” mindset.
Through daily affirmations, positive influences and self acceptance, Waddle said she found the will to choose life. Her presentation also focused on the importance of separating yourself from things that do not define you.
“I am more than my broken dreams,” Waddle said in her presentation. “You are more than your dreams and you are more than what you want to do with your life. So much more.”
The audience then split into smaller groups for personal discussion. They also participated in activities that exemplified how they could apply the “I am enough” mindset to themselves.
“I expected to hear about Amy’s story and learn more about eating disorders,” kinesiology junior Hanna Doting said. “But I definitely left knowing more about myself and my own body image.”
Many audience members felt moved by Waddle’s message. She gave insight into a dark time in her life that many people could relate to. Waddle said her purpose is to give hope to those who have not yet realized they are enough.
“If one person could take away some confidence, more confidence, I would be like, ‘Wow, this was a successful program,’” Moore said.