In its fourth year on campus, student organization Body Sense made a large step toward body image positivity by securing actress Brittany Snow to appear as a guest speaker at Ohio State.
In a collaboration with the Ohio Union Activities Board, Snow — star of films like “John Tucker Must Die” and “Hairspray” — will appear in a moderated Q&A on Monday, speaking on issues including her career and past struggles with eating disorders.
The actress has been open with the press and social media in discussing her personal fight against anorexia and self-mutilation, which resulted in hospitalization at 19 years old for cutting and body dysmorphia.
Laurie Hamame, a fourth-year in journalism and co-leader of Body Sense, said the event’s concept originated with a half-joking suggestion to bring Demi Lovato, singer and recovering bulimic, to campus. The group believed such an event was far beyond their reach, but when OUAB opened applications for student collaborations, Body Sense applied. To the club’s shock, they were accepted.
Hamame said that Lovato was nixed due to budget concerns, but when Snow was suggested, she was thrilled. She said she believes that the lower profile of her struggles with body image would reinforce the universality of eating disorders.
“The fact that it’s this celebrity who’s in ‘Pitch Perfect’ — everyone sees her and they’re like, ‘Oh wait, she had an eating disorder?'” said Hamame. “So I think it really strikes the core that it could hit anyone.”
Michelle Holmberg, the director of programs for the national organization Screening for Mental Health, highlighted the broad spectrum of people touched by anorexia and bulimia, saying they are “not gender-specific, racial-specific or ethnic-specific.”
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 91 percent of college-aged women attempt to control their weight through dieting, and 25 percent of them binge and purge to control their weight.
Holmberg said she believes that celebrity spokespeople like Snow are major contributors to cutting back on stigma and raising awareness of these issues.
“Having somebody step forward and say, ‘I have struggled myself, but I’ve also found help,’ can be incredibly empowering for those who may also be struggling,” Holmberg said. “To give them that encouragement to learn more and to seek help is necessary.”
Hamame said this is what gives Snow’s story its power — despite appearing to have it all, the actress openly admits struggling with self-confidence.
“It’s not about the way you look, it’s the way you choose to love yourself,” Hamame said.
Hayley Esterline, Body Sense co-leader and third-year in psychology, echoes this sentiment in her hopes for the event.
“I want people to feel inspired and to walk out of the room thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I should change the way I’m living … maybe I should be kinder to myself,’” she said.