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Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Mills College Weekly

Eating disorders are on the rise among young women. Luckily
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is here (Feb. 22, through

Statistics from the National Eating Disorder Association show
that between 5 and 10 million girls and women suffer from an eating
disorder such as anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder or
borderline conditions. Due to the shame and secrecy of eating
disorders, many more undocumented cases may exist.

There are many causes of these disorders. According to NEDA,
psychological factors include low self-esteem, feelings of
inadequacy, depression, anxiety, anger and loneliness. Troubled
relationships, difficulty expressing emotions or feelings, being
ridiculed for size or weight, and a history of sexual or physical
abuse are some of the personal factors.

Debbie Holmes, 40, a prospective student’s mother, said, “Eating
disorders are such a big issue because you think you are trying to
better yourself to prove something to yourself and others. If you
lose weight people always tell you how good you look, and so you
keep losing weight because you want to look better. You just don’t
realize what you’re doing is not better, especially in the long

Having suffered from anorexia in 1981, Holmes says that many
people don’t realize that anorexics are compulsive in many other
areas in life. She recalls eating only once a week (orange juice,
milk, and yogurt blended together) to maintain her weight at 95
pounds, and when she wasn’t eating she was chewing gum. She
experienced hair loss and irregular menstruations-common side
effects of eating disorders.

Of course, women aren’t the only sufferers; there are about one
million boys and men who also struggle with eating disorders. The
instances of women with eating disorders exceed the rates of
disorders among men.

Mills woman Amy Curran, 19, said that, “Every woman that’s
considered beautiful by society’s standard is thin.”

Holmes also said, “women just try to strive for perfection among
men. They want to be more perfect in every aspect of life.”

The drive for thinness begins long before college. NEDA also
says that 42 percent of 1st to 3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
And 81 percent of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat. It is
implanted into the female mind that skinny is good, and the
skinnier the better. The average woman in 5’4″ and weighs 140
pounds, while the average model is 5’11” and weighs 117 pounds.

So, what impact does Mills have on eating disorders? “They don’t
cater to health conscious individuals (such as low calorie meals),”
said Curran.

This year’s theme for the National Eating Disorder Awareness
Week is “Get Real”. NEDA is encouraging everyone to be active and
participate in activities throughout the week. For more information
on events in the bay area during awareness week, visit

Additionally the Tang Center offers weekly educational and
emotional support for students with eating issues. Contact Helen
Pak at (510) 642-5075.