BY LESLIE FINCH
When I decided to do Embody Carolina, I had no idea. I work at the gym, so I knew that over-exercise was an issue on our campus. I knew I wanted to help. I had an idea of how to help; I would train allies. However, I had no idea how widespread the effects of eating disorders are.
At the time, I had heard of two or three of my friends who had previously struggled with an eating disorder, but I didn’t think much of it. I think that’s what we do; we tend to overlook. We overlook the fact that 18 to 20 percent of college women are struggling with an eating disorder and 10 to 15 percent of people with eating disorders are men. Then, we focus on the number rather than the effect. We say “one in five students” rather than “one in five of my friends” have most likely struggled with some form of an eating disorder. We lose the person in the disorder. We reduce them to statistics rather than doing something about it. It is important that we get an idea and that we get an idea now.
There has been a rise in anorexia diagnoses every decade since 1930 in teenagers aged 15 to 19. These are people who we know and people who we care about. These are people who need allies on their side, because an eating disorder is not just something you can pull yourself out of. It takes a team—an educated team. It takes supportive friends, family, doctors and many more. In order to be an effective ally, you have to have a good idea of what an eating disorder is and how it can consume and change a person’s life. I encourage you to come to one of our Embody Carolina trainings, where we teach you how to become effective allies to your friends and family members who are struggling.
I had no idea that anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Now I do. Now I’m doing something about it.