My Final Research Project

by tessa8m on April 29, 2012

in Uncategorized

Posting on a Sunday… what is this?!

I wanted to write a quick shpeal explaining more about my research project and how it went, and then a more in-depth post for tomorrow. I initially had them grouped together but then I realized it was turning into a novel, as my blog usually does, and I am trying to get away from that a bit (well at least for one day :) ).

Thank you for all of the well-wishes and “good lucks” on Friday for my presentation, it ended up going quite well! I already received my grade for the entire poster, paper and presentation and I’ll just say that I am one proud and happy lady right now :)

On the poster the main headings were:

  • Introduction- talked about the increasing rates of EDs and disordered eating on college campuses, but also making sure to differentiate between the two as I feel this is necessary. Also rates of students suffering, and how disordered eating can develop into a full-blown illness if not treated.
  • Objective- bring awareness, clear up misconceptions, understand the best ways to educate others on campus and in society, all done through my own knowledge and also the use of a Focus Group and emails from all of you :) Also clearing the idea that you need to be underweight/emaciated in order to have issues was important to address! Because you do not, I am evidence of that!
  • Methods- here I spoke about my blog and how I used it to get information. I talked about the questions I asked each of you to answer and the various responses. The Focus Group was also mentioned, how I recruited for that, but also the difficult process it was to get people to come.
  • Findings- conclusive findings from both the blog and group, how most people with some kind of ED or disordered eating background have vast knowledge on this topic (makes sense) but how others have limited views or do not quite understand the effects and symptoms. Also spoke about the best education methods.
  • Conclusion- I concluded that passive education methods would be the best option- brochures, bulletin boards, posters in key areas of campus, as more people would see these, rather than a lecture where people would most likely not attend. Bringing awareness and education is necessary in stopping the spread of this illness.

I went into much more detail in my paper of course, but these were the basic points I addressed in the presentation.

As I said earlier, it really did go well! I found that speaking about a topic that I am both knowledgeable in and passionate about is easy to do, as I felt I never ran out of things to say. I had an array of people come up to view the poster and each time I explained my research, I found that I said something different, but of course with the same ideas in mind. I will tell you though, I was rather sick of hearing my own voice by the end of the day haha.

Mom and dad were probably sick of my voice eventually too ;) They came and saw the presentation as well, and then I spent the day with MA!

At least 4 of the women that viewed my poster confided in me that they had past experiences with eating disorders (Anorexia and Bulimia in this case). I felt so honored that strangers told me such personal information, and not just mentioned it, but each of them really took the time to share their own personal experiences. They were glad to see that this was being given more attention and awareness, as they agreed this is a topic where an unbelievable amount of shame and denial is felt.

The shame factor… that was one of the questions I proposed when I asked you readers for help in my research and most people that responded said with clear conviction that they felt an immense amount of shame for their struggles. They were/are embarrassed by it, afraid no one will understand or think they are “weirdos” for such obsessions. The fear of of being seen as “weak” and not perfect, an image that they strive to convey to outside world, yet they are slowly dying inside.

I completely understand this feeling and why some people felt such a strong emotional shame around their illness… in fact I used to feel this way as well. But then I started to blog and connected with SO MANY other women (and men!) who are also suffering in silence with this, and then I no longer felt alone… the shame factor ebbed away because I knew there were tons of individuals out there in this fight with me.

This project showed me that not only is the increasing rates of disordered eating/EDs a major concern, but also the fact that being quiet about it is more of the norm than not. Mental health issues in general are a “hush hush” topic and then when you throw eating disorders in there, an illness that is so often thought of as superficial, well then a silent problem ensues. If no or limited attention and awareness is brought to this, how will the people get help that need to and when will the numbers decline?

*Hint, the answer is they will not.

I honestly had a (for a lack of a better term) great time doing this capstone project. I took the time to put together research on a topic that I actually give a crap about, rather than forcing myself to bust out something that I “have” to, rather than want to. Like I said a few weeks ago, eating disorders and my own personal experience is what I NEED to focus on right now in order to make peace with it.

Hoookay so that project is out of the way and only two papers stand between me and being 100% done for the year! Graduation is on May 12th… almost there, must.push.through.last.assignments.don’t.want.to.ugh. :)

Do you see why I had to separate my posts between today and tomorrow? Well you will, another wordy one coming at you tomorrow sometime!

-How comfortable are you with public speaking? Do you have to do it often?

-Do you agree with my findings, that passive education would be the best option for bringing awareness and knowledge to this topic?

-To anyone in college/school right now, when is your last day and when does summer break begin?

-If you are doing or had to do a capstone/final research project, what topic did you choose?

Have a nice rest of your Sunday and see you tomorrow :)

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alexandra April 29, 2012 at 11:15 am

Oh wow Tessa! That’s SO exciting and SO amazing, you really should be so proud of all that hard work. Bringing awareness to EDs is just helping us all get one step closer to eradicating them forever. I know you impacted people with this project–the fact those 4 girls confided in you is beautiful :) Who knows how many girls didn’t have the confidence to speak up that were affected??
Way to go chica, you ROCK!! :D
ps–good luck on you last two papers!! <3
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2 Errign April 29, 2012 at 11:19 am

I am pretty comfortable with public speaking because Model UN requires you to be able to perform off the cuff public speaking to large groups. That said, I still think it’s pretty hard and uncomfortable and I applaud anyone else who attempts it! Great job, Tessa! I also think it’s awesome that you got over the “shame factor” and did your project on something that has both impacted and interested you. I put that in quotes because I don’t think you should feel ashamed, but I understand how that could happen.
Errign recently posted..Adventurous April.

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3 Sable@SquatLikeALady April 29, 2012 at 11:24 am

I seriously think it is SO awesome that you chose to present on something you care about so deeply. I have heard even medical professionals repeat some of these myths – one of the doctors I work for made a comment after one of the other docs saw a young female with anorexia… Speaking in a derisive tone of voice, he said, “That is a first-world disease.” And well, yes, it is, but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem or any less life-threatening. And if he had been the one treating her, I’m quite certain she would have been able to intuit his condescension, you know? It’s SUCH a problem.

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4 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon April 29, 2012 at 11:26 am

What an awesome final project! Definitely something to be proud of. It’s really cool that, as a result of your research, you can make suggestions that can actually be implemented right at your school. It makes the project so so relevant!

As I mentioned on my blog the other day, I just finished up my senior research project as well which was a study looking at the potential for the evolution of the ability to resist invasion in a species of beetle. My last day of classes is this Wed and graduation is May 20th I believe.

We’re so close to being done!
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5 Melissa (Better Fit) April 29, 2012 at 11:45 am

Wow, congratulations on the presentation! It must feel great that those women felt comfortable to talk to you openly about their experiences. I agree that mental/ emotional/ eating disorders are pushed into the background and talked about in a hush-hush sort of way. No wonder there is such a common feeling of shame among those who are affected- our society tries to glaze over these issues and ignore them. Well done for doing some research and speaking out loud about it!! And it’s great that you mentioned the guys who suffer as well- disordered eating and body dysmorphia are sadly on the rise among men and boys so it’s great to see that you considered them in your research too!

Good luck with the last assignment- only a couple of more weeks to go! :)
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6 Tara April 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

This is so awesome. Seriously – I can’t think of a better person to do this than you. You have so much insight on it and it’s obvious how much you care about it. I agree that people who have never experienced eating disorders have little to no understanding of it. I mean, I can see why, because for years I didn’t understand either. I definitely think education is important and I think it’s especially important to teach people about the signs and symptoms so that they can save themselves or someone else before it’s too late! Great job with this!!
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7 Alex @ therunwithin April 29, 2012 at 11:53 am

I am so glad and jealous you got to this amazing research. I think it is something that is becoming more and more prevalent on college campuses, I see it on mine and it scares me. it scares me because it is just wiped under the rug, like something that is not serious. All I know is that it being ignored is one of the worst things that could happen, it perpetuates the problem and makes a ‘norm’ of under eating, dieting, body bashing, overexercising, etc. ok. I am glad you got such a positive response.

I love public speaking and just enjoy being in front of a crowd. I am torn on what will actually help eating disorders because I was that girl in eighth grade health class learning about anorexia saying ‘why would someone just not eat, that would never happen to me’. It is a tough ground but all I hope is that a social change is made to address what encourages this behavior and eggs it on. while we may not be able to stop someone from getting it, we can help them dig themselves out earlier than never.
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8 Amy Lauren April 29, 2012 at 12:02 pm

I do agree with your findings about passive education, although I guess active education might be a good option for high-risk groups (mostly thinking young female athletes here, not even college age). But yeah, for the general college population, a lecture probably isn’t a good idea because that’s too much like school/class.

I didn’t do a capstone type project in college, but I did an internship in the university PR office and a three huge portfolios. No presentations, but I am generally comfortable speaking in front of people and interviewing- comes from the PR/journalism side of me! And, even though I’ve been done with school/college for five years, my husband finished up on Thursday and the only thing he has left is his actual graduation next weekend. So happy!

I’m glad this went so well for you and love the pic of you and your parents! Definitely a good way to end out your college career, and when you’re passionate about something (I can tell you are), it definitely shines through in your work.
Amy Lauren recently posted..Couponing Craziness- Getting Started (Part 1)

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9 Kat @ a dash of fairydust April 29, 2012 at 12:06 pm

This sounds great,Tessa,and I am so proud of you for being able to share your own experiences in public! I admire your courage so,so much,really,you’re such an inspiration!
I don’t like public speaking myself,I always feel awkward and super uncomfortable with everyone looking at me and stuff… Ugh! I’m so scared of my oral exam therefore,I don’t even want to think about it… :/
What keeps me going though is the thought of being DONE with everything school-related after it at the end of May (hopefully – if I don’t fail an exam!) and being able to enjoy summer afterwards… CAN’T WAIT! :D
Kat @ a dash of fairydust recently posted..A look into the inside – My Eating Disorder. [Part I]

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10 kaitlin @4loveofcarrots April 29, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Congrats on doing such a great job, I wish I could have seen ur presentation!! I am sure you made an impact on a lot of people watching!

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11 Katherine April 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Congratulations! I definitely agree that passive education is the way to go with eating disorders. Most people who struggle with EDs and disordered eating want to turn the spotlight off of their issues, so direct confrontation is not the way to go. Plus, I don’t know about anyone else, but I feel like I’ve been far more affected by striking images rather than somebody just telling me to “eat more.”
I have one week until finals, and our graduation is the same day as yours! I’m not graduating until next year though. I’m also writing a thesis, but it’s on something totally far out and different than what you’ve been working on – Russian environmental policy and activism. It may not sound that interesting, but there’s actually a lot to talk about…I could go on, but I won’t. :D

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12 Eryn April 29, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Congrats on your project!! I think although this disorder has obviously been hell for you, you are going to end up helping soooo many people! Anyway just wanted to say how much you and your beautiful mama look alike…everyone says that one day you grow to look like your mum..so I don’t think you ever have to worry about aging gracefully! I don’t really know enough to comment on the education side..but your project looks incredibly considered and well thought out :)
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13 tessa8m April 29, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Hi Eryn,
Thank you for the rather lovely comment! My mom is going to love reading this and what a nice compliment to both of us :)

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14 Haley @ Health Freak College Girl April 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

your poster looks so legit! glad it all went well :) that’s so awesome that people were able to confide in you and tell you about their ED. that is definitely not easy! it just goes to show how much more the topic needs to be talked about
Haley @ Health Freak College Girl recently posted..true life: i have orthorexia

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15 Erica @ For the Sake of Cake April 29, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Congrats! It sounds like the presentation couldn’t have gone better! :-)

I’m a high school teacher, so public speaking is part of my job! I definitely get nervous if I have to speak in front of people my own age though!
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16 Lisa April 29, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Wow Tessa! Congratulations!!I wish I could have seen the presentation , you must be relieved it is over, but what an accomplishment that you had people come up to you and express their experience with the disorder! That is amazing! Good luck with the rest of your school work and you rock!!xo
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17 Kaila @healthyhelperblog! April 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

The poster looks awesome! Your presentation sounds like it went amazing and I am so happy for you! It must feel great to be done with such a big project and even better knowing that the info you gathered has the potential to help others! That rocks tessa!!!!!
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18 Ashley @ AlmostVegGirlie April 29, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Congrats, girl! You definitely deserve a good grade for the presentation, I know you’ve put a lot of effort into it and it’s so great when you can present on something that really matters to you.

That’s soooooo exciting that graduation is so close for you! My last day of classes is this Friday, and then I’m headed home for the summer! I just have one final to get through the next Thursday and one more paper but I am so ready to be done haha.
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19 Bec April 29, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I’m so glad it so went so well Tessa. Your presentation board looks amazing. I HATE public speeches. I have one due in a few weeks which I decided to talk about travel writing (what I want to do for a job) and you’re right – talking about something you’re passionate about is a lot easier. Ugh, it’s only autumn in Australia so I don’t get summer break for AGES – but my winter break is in a few weeks (4) so that should be awesome.

And I just realised something. The other day you were talking about UMASS and I was trying to remember why that was familiar (I am Australian). Then I remembered that I know people who go there and I have a friend who lives in Boston. It’s highly unlikely you know them, but how weird!

I hope the rest of your weekened was lovely. x
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20 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health April 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Yay I’m so glad that your presentation went well!!! Love your outfit :). I absolutely hate public speaking. It’s something that makes me sort of anxious and even though I may not look like it, I always feel flabbergasted on the inside haha. That’s so awesome that people were interested in what you did your research on and that a few of them confided in you! I’m so proud of all of your hard work! My last day of class is tomorrow and my last final is May 7th!!! Cannot wait haha. Hope the rest of your Sunday goes well love <3
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21 Sophie @ Love Live & Learn April 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Wow Tessa this is fantastic! Firstly a massive congratulations for doing so well, I’m really glad you’re pleased with the grade you got :-). It’s nice that your parents went to see your presentation, I bet the support was lovely. I also think it’s amazing that women came to you to confide their experiences, it shows how deeply what you’ve done here touched them, you should be really proud! I’m glad that you enjoyed it too, it’s clear that you are the perfect person to raise awareness about EDs.

I am fine with public speaking when it’s to a group of adults e.g. tutors etc. but get really nervous when speaking to a group of people my age and younger, I’m not really sure why. I guess it goes back to when I was surrounded by kids who didn’t exactly treat me well… I finish on the 31st May, really really can’t wait!
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22 Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee April 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Congratulations! Whenever I try to speak publicly I start wringing my hands and talking even faster than normal and stuttering. The world definitely needs people like you who can effectively spread the word about issues like EDs. It’s awesome how you got to do your project on such a personal topic! Good luck with finals and have a great week! :)
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23 Nikki April 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm

A HUGE congrats to you!!! And how awesome that your parents came to support your awesomeness :) I just finished my last assignments tonight…DONE! ;)
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24 Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats April 29, 2012 at 11:32 pm

What an amazing project! :) I am not very comfortable with public speaking. I get pretty nervous and shaky. When it is just a few people like a patient and their family for example I do just fine!
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25 Megan @ Weddings and Workouts April 29, 2012 at 11:48 pm

Congrats! You should be SO proud of yourself!

Funnily enough, public speaking doesn’t really scare me, even though I’m quite shy. I did Speech and Drama lessons growing up, so I think that may be why it doesn’t scare me.
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26 Amy @ Turtle-speed Runner April 30, 2012 at 3:46 am

Yay! I’m so glad your project went so well :) I find that too, when you’re speaking about something you have a passion for it’s much easier!!

I used to be awful at public speaking. I would pretty much skip half of my palm cards because as I was standing there I decided they were “crap”, and wanted to get finished already, as well as stutter, stare at the floor, be beetroot red… of course then there was no natural “flow”…. much better now though and just get the normal nerves most people get!

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27 Vien @ We Dare Food April 30, 2012 at 4:16 am

OMG CONGRATS! :D Extremely proud of your research! I agree with what you say about Ed still being a ‘taboo’/under the rug topic and we need to change that! I’m doing my capstone project next semester and will definitely consider focusing it on ed (thank you for the inspiration!). Wow! your graduation is really close by! :D I finish my undergraduate in november and graduating in december (when summer hols start!). Definitely looking forward to that!!!!

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28 Vien @ We Dare Food April 30, 2012 at 4:17 am

OMG CONGRATS!:D Extremely proud of your research! I agree with what you say about Ed still being a ‘taboo’/under the rug topic and we need to change that! I’m doing my capstone project next semester and will definitely consider focusing it on ed (thank you for the inspiration!). Wow! your graduation is really close by! :D I finish my undergraduate in november and graduating in december (when summer hols start!). Definitely looking forward to that!!!!
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29 Vien @ We Dare Food April 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

ooops! sorry for the double posting! blame it on my old wacky laptop! :P
Vien @ We Dare Food recently posted..Auction Rooms, North Melbourne

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30 tessa8m April 30, 2012 at 10:53 am

Wahooo you are so close too girl… I hope your capstone goes quite well next semester!

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31 Cheryl @ happy is the new healthy April 30, 2012 at 7:20 am

WOW! I think what you’ve done is awesome–and so important.

I can see the benefits of an indirect approach – but at the same time, I think at some point, once someone is ready to make some changes, the most powerful thing is hearing that YOU (i.e. individual, focused) deserve recovery! :)
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32 tessa8m April 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

Thank you Cheryl! I agree, there is a certain mindset you have to have in order to get better

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33 Natalie @ will jog for food April 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm

you are an amazing, gorgeous, healthy person!!!!

I am a great cook! It’s one of the things I truly love to do :)
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34 tessa8m April 30, 2012 at 8:31 pm

That is certainly a wonderful thing to be proud of!

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35 Allie May 1, 2012 at 10:59 am

Your poster looks so professional!! You did great and really have a lot to be proud of! :)

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