Tri Sigma tells JMU that it is time to Reclaim Our Bodies
Every fraternity and sorority has a philanthropy and /or brotherhood or sisterhood event in which they raise awareness about throughout the school year. Here at JMU, it is no different with such an active student body that wants to create change and make a difference across campus. February is National Eating Disorder Awareness Month and at James Madison University Tri Sigma does a lot more than raise awareness. Through their cause entitled Leslie George Eating Disorder Awareness Month, they empower women apart of their sorority and across campus to learn to love themselves and recognize that they are beautiful inside and out in honor of the late Leslie George. The Leslie George Memorial Fund for Eating Disorder Awareness started in 2000 in honor of Leslie George, a former JMU Tri Sigma who passed away due to complications from an eating disorder. Each member, spends the month of February posting on social media bringing awareness to eating disorders and promoting positive body image. Tri Sigma also partners with the JMU health center to have tables in warren and festival six times throughout the month of February and give out mirrors and stickers that say “Smile You’re beautiful”. They also have people write negative thoughts about their body and then instruct participants to put that thought in a trash can explaining that fat talk is trash can talk. Members of Tri Sigma simply stop people on campus and hope to leave a lasting impression on them about just being aware that they are beautiful and that they do matter. Two speakers also come to Grafton to speak to the JMU community about not only eating disorders but also being healthy in order to excel in school. The members of Tri Sigma also write letters to congress to pass the FREED act to make insurance companies cover eating disorders. In addition to letters to congress, Tri Sigma writes random anonymous letters to their fellow sisters letting them know how beautiful they are.
Tri Sigma’s most impactful event is their Speak Out which takes place in Taylor Hall. Anyone on campus is invited to this event in which Kathleen MacDonald travels to James Madison University to share her inspirational story and experience with an eating disorder. Kathleen was fighting for bills to be passed in Washington for insurance companies to pay for eating disorder hospital funds. One day, she was giving a speech and planned to kill herself later that day because she was so tired of fighting so hard and seeing no results. Leslie George’s parents happened to be in the audience that day and went up to Kathleen after and hugged her. The George’s told Kathleen about their daughter Leslie George, who also struggled with an eating disorder and passed away in 2000. From that day on Kathleen vowed to fight for herself to get better and help the George’s. For the past 13 years Kathleen has been coming to JMU and running the Speak Out. During the Speak Out, she does a short introduction, tells her story and then allows anyone in the audience to go up to the front and tell their story about their eating disorder. The Speak Out is very emotional and moving for all of those in attendance. Junior Tri Sigma member, Kelley Biglin explains her experience saying, “At first I was really sad and shocked by all of the stories of death. I never realized how prevalent eating disorders were or that it could kill you, in a rather short period of time. When my sisters and JMU students spoke I felt sad for them but also proud for them being able to speak about the issue and admit they need help and are getting help. I also learned a lot about myself and realized how important giving compliments are. The littlest thing can make someone’s day, so I personally have taken it upon myself to make sure if I like something about someone I let them know”.
The Leslie George Eating Disorder Awareness Month is not about sadness but rather honor and happiness that we are alive. JMU tri sigma gives people across campus the chance to know that they are not alone and/or the only one that has been affected by an eating disorder. They also spread one of the most positive and important messages toward our generation. That message is that no matter who you are, what you look like, or what you have been through you are beautiful and have a reason to smile and that your “flaws” are what make you amazing and unique. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from eating disorders in the U.S and 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated disorders. Awareness not only needs to be raised but self-esteem, self-worth, and self-love needs to be spread a lot more in this day and age. The media constantly tries to tell us that we should look, talk, and act certain ways, but we as a generation need to take a stand against that and begin to love ourselves and always accept others. JMU’s tri sigma is trying to do just that and really impacted JMU’s campus this February.