I have been told that you never get over an eating disorder. But I am done. I am done trying to recover from my own eating disorder, and I am done watching other women suffer from theirs. I am done watching girls nibble at Cheerios and raisins like rabbits, picking the chicken out of enchiladas, ordering salad but "hold the dressing, hold the cheese." I am done being given the up and down and love handle to love handle. I am done waiting five minutes for the girl in front of me at the Motley to make up her mind about what she wants—agonizing over whether or not to give in to the hunger pangs. I am done trying to outlast the girl next to me on the elliptical, and I am done hating myself for letting the girl on the other side outlast me. I am done spending my money to feed friends who didn't feed themselves in the dining hall. I am done listening to the girl at the table next to me makes excuses for the French fries she's just put down. I am done watching girls watch each other—guessing weight and pant size. I am done feeling hungry eyes on my muffin, and I am embarrassed when I remember how many times I have stared the same way.
When I drive away from Claremont on May 18, I want to be done with all of this for good. I want to leave it behind.
Eating disorders have, regrettably, been a significant part of my college career. I gave up my freshman year to getting skinny—hours on the elliptical, a chronic stomachache from too many apples and too much tea. I lost friends because I was competitive, cold and tired. I blew off boys because I was frigid. Then I spent a whole summer getting better. I came back sophomore year, trying to love myself and be loved and making weak attempts to raise awareness. I went abroad and got better—got "fat." But then I came back and got skinny again, but not skinny enough. I went back to working out twice a day and almost lost my period again, along with another best friend.
I thought that as a senior I would have bigger things to think about. I thought that there wouldn't be time to worry about my ass and arms. But I spent most of winter break realizing that though my weight hadn't plummeted, nothing had changed. I spent three weeks fighting with my parents, trying to justify my almost vegan diet at every meal, sneaking out of the house to work out a second time.
I came back to Claremont for my last semester ready to go out with a bang, to get in better shape than ever. My plans were thwarted when I was diagnosed with mono the day before classes started: no exercise until I was better. No exercise for at least a month, maybe many. To an anorexic girl, there could be nothing worse.
But I think that maybe my mono was an act of God. In the past three-going-on-four weeks, I have not exercised. I have stopped being hungry. I have stopped having stomachaches. And I have started realizing how unhealthy—how unnatural—my behavior had been and, worse, how many young women around me are practicing the same bad habits.
Mono will be in my blood forever, I found out. My eating disorder won't. I want to flush it out, leave it behind. I want to leave Claremont in May a happy and truly healthy young woman. But I do not want to leave Claremont knowing that the unhealthy culture that I have been a part of will continue to thrive. I want to leave thinking that in the future, eating disorders will not be so definitive of so many Claremont college careers.
I am done with anorexia—for myself and for others. When will Claremont decide it's had enough too? When will one of the five administrations here recognize what is going on? When will even a few of the 5,000 critically thinking undergraduates decide that they have had enough?
Speak Up About Disordered Eating.
In our contemporary society, disordered eating is a central concern within women's health. Its alarming prevalence and impact are often glossed over by society and perpetuated by the media. On these campuses, many women suffer from degrees of disordered eating. The problem is so prevalent that it is difficult to notice. Many women who suffer in Claremont lack the support or resources to constructively confront these issues.
As a way of sparking much-needed dialogue among students and between the student body and administration, we encourage students and community members to comment on Zoe's article and share their own experiences and thoughts on disordered eating. Post comments on the new voice website, which will be launched by mid-March, write to Zoe directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) or to voice (Scrippsvoice@gmail.com), or submit anonymously to the voice mailbox (#477).
If you would like to talk to a professional about disordered eating, you can make an appointment with Monsour Counseling Center at (909) 621-8202.
Don't ignore disordered eating. Don't let it define your life or the lives of the women around you. Speak up. Talk to your friends. Create discourse. Be aware.