Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Pressures of Being a College Student

In coming to terms with my own eating disorder, I've realized that it is when the weather gets colder that I become more critical of my body and the fear of putting on weight over the winter months becomes agonizing. I started to think about how I certainly can't be alone in this thought process and it occurred to me that, given what I know about body image and eating issues, there are probably so many students on this campus that are going through the same struggle. With Eating Disorder Awareness Week still a few months away, I wanted to focus this blog on the issue of eating disorders among college students, especially because of how I have been feeling lately.
I just read a press release entitled: "College Triggers" Can Increase Eating Disorder Risk" by the Eating Recovery Center in Denver. This release brings up some good points about eating disorders that are often looked over or misunderstood. For example, many people think that eating disorders are a chosen behavior. Kenneth L. Weiner, MD, CEDS, co-founder and medical director of Eating Recovery Center, explains, "Eating disorders are not a disorder of choice, but rather a genetic predisposition that can be triggered by any number of life-changing events. The increased risk of developing an eating disorder in college is largely due to the lack of predictability in a new environment and different social codes of conduct." This is a really important statement in terms of understanding where eating disorder sufferers are coming from and how their struggle is not something that they are to be blamed for.
I feel as though it is extremely important for other college students to understand and be able to identify certain things that can trigger eating disorders to either begin or intensify:

-Academic stresses can be overwhelming when beginning college and many new students are not prepared or have not experienced the level of stress that can come from college courses.

-College athletes, specifically females, are among the most likely to develop eating disorders in college due to the extreme pressure of competition. Perfectionism in athletics can often lead to body image issues, especially when the sport being played requires athletes to have a lean body mass.

-The concept of the dreaded 'Freshmen 15' can create a lot of anxiety for college students. Fighting to keep off those 'inevitable' excess pounds can lead to disordered eating patterns and bouts of binging or over-exercising.

-Perhaps the most dangerous of the college triggers is binge drinking. Excessive drinking, while dangerous in and of itself, is especially dangerous when students are worried about the calories being consumed. "Drunkorexia" is a term that has recently been adopted to describe when caloric intake is reduced (people eating significantly less than normal) so that those calories can be "saved" for alcohol. This is a dangerous practice that can lead to alcohol poisoning and other detrimental effects.

The pressures of being a college student are immense and coming from someone who knows what it is like to struggle from an eating disorder, it is important to know the triggers. Everyone is stressed in one way or another but, as hard as it may be, it is crucial to find ways to cope with this stress so it does not lead to these kinds of behavior. If you think that you or someone you know may be struggling from an eating disorder or an unhealthy relationship with food, don't hesitate to find someone you trust to talk to about it. The more we help each other understand our struggles, the stronger we will be.

We are all beautiful. <3

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