Pro-Eating Disorder?

Maggie Fried

Going to the bathroom should be a pleasant experience, however, upon walking into a bathroom stall in the Coop I was accosted with a sign that read:

“Thin/Is Beauty/Why do we let people tell us/what we do is wrong/Anorexia and Bulimia are lifestyle/Choices/And we have the/Freedom to choose/C.A.E.D.U/Colgate Advocates of Eating Disorders Unite.”

I almost vomited right then and there, not because I was exercising my right to choose bulimia, rather, I was so nauseated by this sign. The first thing that came to my mind was that this has to be some kind of sick twisted joke, except that I found the same sign in the bathroom of my dorm. So either someone out there is pulling some awful, tasteless joke or this is for real.

Let’s get one thing straight. It might be sexy to have a good body, which means being in shape and slender. By most societal standards, sexy is not being so thin that your ribs protrude and your hair falls out from lack of protein. Thin is not always beautiful. Nicole Richie has recently been in the limelight due to her eating disorder, but the captions under the pictures of her grossly underweight frame do not proclaim her beautiful and gorgeous body. Those stars that have great bodies such as Jessica Alba and Beyonce are sexy because they have curves, but at the same time are thin because they eat healthy and exercise. Stars like Kate Bosworth who have shrunk to skin and bones are said to be too skinny and unhealthy – not beautiful. Furthermore, no one has the right to tell me that I am not beautiful because I am not a size 0 and 90 lbs. College students already have enough issues with self-esteem, we don’t need someone else hurting our pride.

The poster implies that those people who try to help people with eating disorders are in the wrong. Furthermore, the people that put up these signs also tore down the pamphlets posted in the bathroom that give numbers of people who will offer counseling to someone with an eating disorder. Unlike the implications of the poster, there is no one at Colgate that forcibly tries to stop bulimics and anorexics from having an eating disorder. Rather, the University has set up a help system for those that have an eating disorder and want help overcoming the disease. Yes, I said disease. Anorexia and bulimia are diseases and mental illnesses. These illnesses kill teenagers every year. At freshmen orientation, students who knew someone who had died from an eating disorder were asked to stand up. I was so shocked at the number of people that stood up; right there in front of my eyes was proof that eating disorders kill. There is a reason why people say eating disorders are “wrong,” and it’s not because they want everyone to be obese. Rather, it is because food is a necessity and depriving oneself of it is unhealthy and unsafe.

It would be obscene if someone posted signs around campus that read “Let’s spread AIDS: have unprotected sex!” In the same way, the signs that I saw are supporting people who choose unhealthy lifestyles that have detrimental consequences. If someone wants to be anorexic and bulimic, it is their choice. However, other sensible people have the responsibility to prevent those that they love from dwindling away to the point of hospitalization and death. Furthermore, when people with eating disorders try to convince not only themselves but others what they are doing is right, people have every right to interfere. “Helping” others stay thin through eating disorder support groups is harmful to more than just one person. Someone with an eating disorder should not be told that what he or she is doing is okay and safe, when facts show that that is anything but the truth. You might have the freedom to choose to be anorexic, but you do not have the right to push a deadly lifestyle on others or to prevent others from getting help.

It might seem as though I am overreacting to a simple sheet of paper hastily taped to a bathroom stall. However, everyone I know that has come across one of these signs has ripped it down out of disgust. I’ve also been told not to care about the signs because they are definitely a joke. If you posted these signs and it was a joke, you are sick. Like I said before, eating disorders kill and you have no right to make light of this. What is sad is that I think it would be better if these signs were posted as a joke, because if the people who posted them are serious, there is a real problem on this campus.

Girls on this campus are already thin enough; we don’t need 1,400 girls walking around looking like Nicole Richie, and we certainly don’t need people telling us that choosing not to eat is okay. I know enough people that struggle with their weight, and promoting bulimia and aneorexia will certainly not help these girls. So please, don’t tell me or anyone else I’m ugly because my ribs don’t stick out. More than that, please wake up and realize that you are hurting yourselves, and that being thin is not worth the risk of death. Even if you want to be free in your decision and continue hurting yourself, don’t rip down the pamphlets that are trying to help other girls. Finally, please don’t spoil my bathroom experience by posting such abhorrent signs.