Got the skinny?

Raising awareness on eating disorders is kind of important

The final days of February and the beginning of March were devoted to one thing that went relatively unnoticed around the Portland State campus: eating disorders.

Raising awareness on eating disorders is kind of important

The final days of February and the beginning of March were devoted to one thing that went relatively unnoticed around the Portland State campus: eating disorders.

Eating disorders are a serious problem all over the world. Not only do they affect young women, but men as well. Currently, an estimated 10 million females and one million males are fighting a battle with some form of eating disorder. So why weren’t students interested in doing something about it? It’s something they certainly ought to be involved in stopping.

Blaming the media’s negative portrayal of body image has always been a fallback for those who are trying to fight eating disorders. And it’s a legitimate one; numerous studies back it up. But you can gripe and complain all you want about how the fashion industry only uses size-zero models; complaining won’t do much unless it is followed by activism.

Activism is best sought after becoming educated. For those of you out of the loop, there are three major classified eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

Anorexia is generally characterized by emaciation, self-starvation and excessive weight loss. Those suffering from this disorder often have an unhealthy obsession with being thin (a commonality in eating disorders) and a distorted self-image.

Those suffering from bulimia often exhibit many of the same symptoms as anorexia, but with the addition of binging and purging. Binging entails eating large amounts of food, followed by feeling a lack of control over eating. To fight off the lack of control, the binging is followed by purging, usually through self-induced vomiting or excessive use of laxatives.

Binge-eating disorder involves many of the same symptoms as bulimia. What sets the two apart is that binge eating disorder involves recurrent binge-eating episodes. However, the binging is not followed by purging, excessive exercise or fasting.

As a result, individuals suffering from binge eating disorder are more often than not obese or overweight. Said individuals often experience guilt, shame or distress about their eating habits, which leads to more binging.

These are the three most commonly diagnosed disorders; there are many more, including orthorexia. Orthorexia is not medically recognized at this time, but it involves avoiding foods perceived to be unhealthy which can lead to severe malnutrition and sometimes death.

An eating disorder does not necessarily have to be one of the above. Any combination of symptoms could be considered an eating disorder without meeting the full criteria of medically recognized terminology.

According to a study published in Health Psychology, college-aged women are unlikely to develop an eating disorder, although around 10 percent are likely to develop some form of disorder over the course of their college years. While this is good news for college students, raising awareness for eating disorders is still vital in their prevention.

While the eating and exercise habits of another person are really no one else’s business, if you are worried that someone is suffering from or at risk for developing an eating disorder, do something about it! Depending on the situation, deciding what to do can be difficult.

What works for one person won’t necessarily work for everyone else, but if you’re worried about someone close to you, ask them if there is anything you can do. The best thing you can do is be there for them and be aware of the signs and symptoms of the various eating disorders out there.

Once you’re aware of the various symptoms and signs and ways to combat them, fight! There’s no need in our progressive society for a media that promotes negative beauty standards. Rather than striving for unattainable thinness, the media should be promoting healthy lifestyles and self-love and acceptance for everyone.

The PSU Women’s Resource Center has a “Love Your Body” action team that works to address eating disorders on campus. According to its section on the WRC website, it also holds events and weekly meetings. If you’re interested, head on down to the WRC!

Kate Moss was quoted stating, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” (Obviously she’s never had the vegan pizza from Sizzle Pie.) Anyway, this is the kind of attitude that needs to be stopped. Stop hating yourself because, as cliche as it sounds, you’re all beautiful in your own way.

This is a long-lasting battle, but it’s one that we can win if we work together to take down oppressive media and negative body image and start to raise awareness. PSU may have done a poor job of this, but that’s no reason not to give it a shot ourselves.