Trigger Warning: Eating Disorders
One of our professors for ShoutOut! suggested that the class check out Tri Sigma’s, “Leslie George Speak Out,” which addressed eating disorders and created a venue for people to talk to an audience about their inexperience or experience with eating disorders. The event was in memory of Leslie George who lost her life to bulimia. Her parents go to events like ones at JMU to promote eating disorder awareness. The slogan for the “Leslie George Speak Out” was, “No body is perfect, but everybody is beautiful.” I am not going to share the stories told by fellow JMU students as they are very private, but everyone who spoke was very brave to share their experiences. Instead I am going to talk about Kathleen MacDonald, the speaker Tri Sigma had come to mediate the speak out and talk about her personal struggles with eating disorders.
Kathleen is one of the best public speakers I have ever met. I was hooked the whole time. She talked about her personal struggle with an eating disorder that lasted for nearly 18 years. She would skip meals, starve herself, and purge. She never wanted to get fat. Her eating disorder started around puberty, as many people told her including her own mother that when people hit puberty they need to watch their weight. These comments made Kathleen worry about her body.
During middle school Kathleen would do fad diets with her friends, but eventually she would pick up unhealthy eating habits that were life threatening such as purging. One day her life would change after she adopted a dog Gretz, who was her recovery supporter. She had a relapse and began to purge as Gretz watched her, she then slammed the door on him and realized that she had gone too far. It was time to fully recover and take care of herself. Later Kathleen became an advocate for people with eating disorders and is trying to push for insurance companies to offer vital medical treatment and therapy to people with eating disorders. Go Kathleen!
I myself have never struggled with an eating disorder. Since I am so thin it would not surprise me if someone thought I had one. But I am comfortable with my body and am happy with it. Everyone needs to be comfortable with his or her body and realize they are beautiful. The media needs to not only stress that being too overweight can be detrimental to one’s health but also being too skinny can be just as detrimental or even more in regards to one’s health. The bottom line is people should be happy with their body and their weight as long as their weight is not harmful to their health and general well being.
After hearing Kathleen talk and fellow peers at James Madison University share their experiences with eating disorders I now consider eating disorders to be a real disability. Originally I thought eating disorders were just a phase, but this was incredibly narrow minded of me and ignorant. I am so glad I went to this event and have learned how hard eating disorders are to overcome, but that they can be conquered. What do you think can be done to spread more awareness about eating disorders? Also if you know or think someone has an eating disorder talk to them, support them, so that they can lead a healthy life before it’s too late.
Below I have posted links to eating disorder organizations that offer support and advice.