Film highlights body image issues


All over campus, plates, calorie listings and scents of fresh crepes, remind students of the constant presence of food in their daily lives.

Throughout National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, Living Well hosted a number of food-informative and body positivity events, including a screening of the documentary “All of Me.”

The film, directed by local resident Bess O’Brien, was shown at 6 p.m. Feb. 28  in the Silver Maple Ballroom in the Davis Center.

Its cast of characters featured people from within the UVM community and the surrounding Vermont area, including students, staff and alumni.

This diverse cast shared their unique stories about facing the challenges and triumphs related to eating disorders with the camera.

“During the film, I ask you to question some assumptions and be open to the voices that are willing to be vulnerable with you,” said Annie Valentine, host and health educator for Living Well.

It opened with clips from old home movies, depicting families laughing and dancing, then hit the audience with some hard facts.

Thirty million Americans struggle with an eating disorder at one point in their lives, the film stated.

UVM students featured in the film attested to how deeply ingrained body image, dieting culture and fitness fanaticism is on campus.

Dieting, body dissatisfaction and wanting to be thin are all factors that increase risk for the onset of eating disorders, according to mental health resource ULifeline.

Although O’Brien could not be there herself, some of the cast members were present after the showing to hold a question and answer session with the audience.

Audience members asked the panelists questions about methods of recovery, how to help people recover and how the film played a role in these.

“Perhaps someone else can feel a thread of their story in mine, and I think we need that to heal,” panelist Sienna Fontaine said.

It is difficult to establish a clear way to support friends or family members with an eating disorder, but the most surefire way to help is by encouraging people to ask questions, create respectful boundaries and listen, Fontaine said.

The film emphasized that though the road to recovery is never truly over, learning to live is perhaps the most important part of rising above one’s eating disorder.

“Let’s be real people. We’re alive,” one cast member said.