Picture Perfect

Feb 252009
Authors: Chloe Wittry

All it took was glance at a “cheesy” Valentine’s Day card for Georgia to shift her life track, which had for nearly a decade been consumed by bulimia, to full recovery from the debilitating disorder.

Georgia, a CSU senior who requested to be referred to by a pseudonym in order to avoid being associated with bulimia, recovered about nine months ago after struggling with the disease for nine years.

After looking at the card, which read, “Where’s your heart?” she realized that she had no excitement, no energy, few friends and a world of pain because bulimia had taken control of her life. She decided she needed to start the healing process if she wanted to have a future.

“For so many years I let bulimia control my mind and my ability to function,” Georgia said. “I had a hard time making friends, and I moved around a lot to try to find some kind of stability. But that stability didn’t come for a long time because all that ever really mattered was my body weight.”

And she’s not alone.

According to research from the University Counseling Center, about 1 percent of CSU students who came to the center seeking food-related counseling over an estimated two years suffered from anorexia-nervosa, 1 to 3 percent from bulimia, .07 to 4 percent from binge eating disorder, and 91 percent have warning signs of an eating disorder, which is also labeled as disordered eating.

Georgia said her daily routine was very rigid for years. She would wake up, go on a three-mile run, go to class, eat a small snack, go to yoga, eat a small dinner and go to sleep. The schedule didn’t allow for friendship, creating a lonesome environment.

“On the weekends, I would go to the movies by myself,” Georgia said. “It’s a very lonely disorder.”

Psychology major Amy Strakbein, who spoke at a meeting for “Celebrate EveryBody Week” on Monday night, can attest to the crippling affects of an eating disorder.

“I knew I was doing it to myself, no one was doing it to me,” she said.

Cheryl Stolz, a university counselor, said eating disorders are triggered frequently in early adolescence but often do not develop until college when the person is away from his or her family and away from home.

“It’s a build up,” she said. “The reasons for it can stem from biological, psychological or social factors, but most times, it is a combination.”

“You’re in an altered state of mind, you are not yourself,” Cameron McDonnel, a CSU graduate, said in the meeting Monday. “I didn’t laugh for six months, I kept losing friends who didn’t want to deal with me, and I soon knew that a change was needed.”

Stolz said media pressures to have the perfect body often trigger eating disorders and can especially affect those with low self-esteem.

“Body image issues are everywhere, but for someone with an eating disorder, they’re amplified,” said Laura Patterson, a human development and family studies major. “I try to avoid media outlets dealing with food, eating and body image issues.”

Stolz said some students with eating or body image disorders have often received a message from society or a relationship causing them to obsess over eating, exercising and maintaining a certain image.

“The triggering messages I received when I was younger were from my parents — my father who I could never seem to please and my 112-pound marathon-running mother who I always tried to make proud,” Georgia said. “Both I found to constantly torture me and keep me furiously disappointing myself.”

Georgia said she grew dependent and obsessive about food, weight and becoming as close to perfect as possible in order to control something in her life that she couldn’t control.

“The harder I worked and the closer I seemed to get, the more loneliness and fear seemed to rule my life,” she said.

Stolz stressed that the road to recovery is long and hard, and McDonnel said his advice was to “start the healing process as soon as possible it’s a lonely disease. The more support you have the better.”

Stolz said the counseling center strives to help students discover the root of their eating disorders rather than talking about the disorder itself and emphasized the fact that students are not alone.

“Without a direction, life can take you on a journey rather than life being your own journey,” Georgia said. “Food had a seriously unreasonable amount of power over me, and I became a victim to that addiction. I want nothing to have that power except me and my own free will.”

Staff writer Chloe Wittry can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Barbie vs. Real woman measurements

Average Woman

Height: 5’4″

Weight: Approximately 140 lbs.

Size: 14 dress

Bust size: 36″ to 37″ (B cup)

Waist: Between 30″ and 34″

Hips: Between 40″ and 42″

Shoe size: Between 8.5 and 9.5

Barbie (as a human)

Height: 7’2″

Weight: 101 lbs.

Size: 4 dress

Bust size: 39″ (FF cup)

Waist: 19″ (same as her head)

Hips: 33″

Shoe size: 5

Eating disorder facts

-1 percent of CSU students suffer from anorexia

-.07 percent to 4

percent suffer from binge eating disorder

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