Health & Eating Habits on College Campuses. How Can We Make These Environments Better?

Yesterday my college newspaper, The Bowdoin Orient, featured an article entitled, “A look at disordered eating at Bowdoin” that includes an interview with yours truly 🙂 about my own experience with unhealthy/disordered eating behaviors. Bowdoin is an amazing environment with some of the most intelligent, well-rounded, and impressive people I have ever met. Also, (side note), it is arguably one of the most beautiful college campuses.
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Case and point. In all honesty these photos don’t even do the college justice.

Bowdoin is an extremely selective institution. Perfectionists flock here, as well as to other colleges of similar prestige, and often face overwhelming pressures to maintain, or even enhance, the high standards of achievement they have always set for themselves. This trait of perfectionism, in college aged women, has been studied and is found to actually be a fairly consistent trait among those who suffer from an eating disorder. With a strong perseverance for perfectionism embodied by so many young women on campus factors such as academic stress, the adjustment of transitioning from high school to college, pressure to make new friends, and our society’s unrealistic standards of beauty, really have the potential to derail young women attending college for the first time. It is also important to recognize that there are other characteristics, aside from perfectionism, that make young women vulnerable to disordered eating behaviors. We, as women, have A LOT of things going on mentally, emotionally, even physically when we arrive at college for our freshman fall. These reasons are why there is such a strong need for awareness and education about disordered eating. I hope that by educating, young woman, especially freshman, about this issue before they face all the ups and downs of college life, then they will be less likely to be effected by this awful disease. I am so grateful that Bowdoin is making an effort to bring awareness to this issue and trying to take away some of the stigma, which surrounds EDs by creating an open forum about it on campus. Bowdoin is definitely making strides in the right direction to help their students in need. This is exactly why I am sharing my story. I truly want to help others who are suffering in the same way that I have…and also still do at some times. I know, personally, just how long I was ashamed about my disease and I don’t ever want any other individual to feel how I have. I always remind myself that, in regard to others:

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And I’ve started to remind myself, when I get anxious or overwhelmed about sharing my own story, to listen to the wise words of one of the most remarkable women in history:

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Regardless of what others think I know that I need to share my story…if not to help others, than honestly just to help myself.

I am here at Bowdoin, until May, and as a result of the article, as well as my publication of my blog, many more people are now aware of my struggle with this disease…however I am NOT ashamed. I know how far I’ve come and, yes, I still have a lot of work to do, but I am going to be as present and as engaged in my current environment as possible. I will tell myself:

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And also that:

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