Group Asks Women To Post Selfies Without Wearing Makeup To Raise Awareness For Eating Disorders

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A local group is hoping to raise awareness this week for eating disorders by encouraging women to post selfies sans makeup to promote positive body image.

The Renfrew Center, based in Roxborough, is a residential treatment facility for people with eating disorders and is behind the campaign “Barefaced Challenge.”

The challenge encourages women to invite friends, family or colleagues to snap a picture or video without makeup and then explain how it made them feel after making the post. The challenge kicks off  National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 26-March 4).

Renfrew Assistant Clinical Director Dr. Samantha DeCaro tells Eyewitness News globally more than 70 million people suffer with eating disorders and that the figure could be understated.

“I think there are people who are not getting diagnosed that should be getting diagnosed,” DeCaro said. “I think there are things that perpetuate the myth that this is an urban, suburban white girl disorder and we really need to bust that myth because eating disorders don’t discriminate and can affect anyone, any age, any race, any socioeconomic status, any gender.”

Doylestown resident Shelby Rolla first suffered with anorexia and believes the disorder may have begun as a child when she struggled with being extremely introverted.

“I developed self-soothing behaviors that weren’t necessarily healthy, so it started with fixating on things, fixating on numbers and then around 10 years old, it translated to fixating on food because that was a way I could hone my attention in on something and drown out whatever else I was feeling,” Rolla said.

Rolla was later clinically diagnosed with bulimia.

“I went from being a really anxious person,” Rolla said, “to a very depressed person with a very depressed body.

She added, “I couldn’t make it do the things I wanted anymore and that’s where bulimia came in.”

DeCaro said some of the warning signs to be alert for include someone being extremely regimented about what they eat and also constantly talking about their body or comparing their bodies to others.

Ultimately, it was a college therapist that led Rolla to seek treatment, which she acknowledges was difficult, but worth it.

“It takes a village, it’s something that can’t be done for you and you can’t do it yourself,” Rolla said.

To take part in the “Barefaced Challenge,” post a make-up free selfie or video and explain how it makes you feel to go make-up less with the hastags #barefacedbeauty or #barefacedchallenge.

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