Recently Marina Perdikouris, a member of the Student Government Association, made mention at an SGA meeting that she felt concerned that eating disorders are present in uniquely high numbers on this campus.
Many were quick to nod their heads at the meeting, but few were able to really offer any suggestions as to how to remedy the situation.
This is reflective of an overlying dilemma: Most people know that image obsession is dangerous, but few have the knowledge or will to address the issue. By doing a little research, I found that the prototypical anorexic is a college-aged female from an upper-middle class family who habitually excels in academics and is often a perfectionist about personal appearance.
Additionally, the report suggested that in the past ten years, cases of males requiring treatment for bulimia or anorexia have more than tripled, although males still only make up roughly 12 percent of all treated cases.
It has become apparent to me since becoming a student here that our student body is often borderline obsessed with image and weight. Whether you are a guy like I am, that spends probably too much time in front of the mirror each day, or a female that frets too much about that extra pound or two, it is important that we all join in a dialogue about our perceptions of ourselves and each other.
Of all the students that I have spoken with about the topic, I am surprised at the high level of awareness encircling image and eating disorders on campus. Frankly, we go to a wealthy school with good-looking people. This environment is traditionally conducive to the development of serious, sometimes fatal psychological illnesses and it is time to publicly address the issue.
When I came to Quinnipiac in August of 2000, I was floored by the egregious display of wealth that I saw on campus. I saw more Gucci bags and Armani Exchange T-shirts my first week at Quinnipiac than I had seen all four years of high school. Dorm Road seemed more like an auto show than anything else: Students were driving cars that my dad couldn’t even afford.
Needless to say, many students here come from privileged backgrounds that others cannot personally identify with, and I think that creates an unspoken source of stress on campus. This divide creates pressure to “keep up” with the latest fashion trends, especially for the female population.
Discussing eating disorders does not mean placing blame on the gender or societal forces that most distinctly perpetuate the cycle of weight and body obsession. Men are not responsible for creating an atmosphere that sexually objectifies women any more than women are to blame for accepting it.
It is my belief, based admittedly on my limited knowledge, that this issue stems from a genuine lack of self respect and self-esteem on the part of the person who becomes afflicted with these disorders. We must bear in mind the implications of insensitivity, however, and help those who may be in need.
Resident Assistants and the Student Health Center are good places to begin a quest for help for you or a friend if eating disorders become prevalent in your life. We all need to take more of an active roll to disregard the high-school-like pressure present on this campus to dress and look perfectly.
We are growing adults, yet it still seems like we are unable to affect a real change on this small level.
Maybe if our campus was less superficial, fewer people would be as personally tormented about their appearances. Think of your own presence on this campus and about whether or not you are helping the process.