Warriors fight for self-respect
The Bowdoin Warriors scheduled a series of events this week demonstrating how body image and eating disorders affect the lives of students. The events were organized to recognize Eating Disorders Awareness Week, which the nonprofit National Eating Disorders Association sponsors.
The week's events began on Tuesday, with a discussion group on body image and eating disorders at Bowdoin. On Wednesday, there was a video presentation entitled "Recovering Bodies: Overcoming Eating Disorders" on the 16th floor of Coles Tower. The subsequent vigil, planned to take place on the Walker Art Museum Steps, was cancelled due to the severe cold temperatures. Although the Eating Disorder Awareness Week is scheduled nationally for February 23, Bowdoin Warriors moved it to coincide with this week's final event, a lecture presented in conjunction with the Women's Resource Center and the Dudley Coe Health Center.
Anne Cavanaugh '03, co-head of Warriors, commented that although turnout for Tuesday's discussion was relatively small, the conversation illuminated many body image problems found especially at Bowdoin.
Cavanaugh said, "While the turnout for Tuesday's Discussion Group was somewhat smaller than [Warriors] would have liked, I think it went well. As the goal of the talk was to address eating disorders specifically at Bowdoin, one of the largest issues that came up was that of over-exercising. One can clearly see the importance of the gym to the school through the placement of workout facilities in the middle of the Student Union. Not only do students have to walk past the gym every time they want to check their mail, those students who do use the gym are on display through the large glass doors. Students commented that over-exercising is a socially acceptable form of disordered eating at Bowdoin."
Cavanuagh also said the pressure many students felt to exercise at the gym everyday, even athletes who already had long practices. Such over-exercising presents very dangerous health risks that are often ignored.
The speakers at Thursday night's lecture were Tom and Doris Smeltzer, whose daughter, Andrea, died of complications from a fourteen month struggle with bulimia. They discussed the factors leading to Andrea's eating disorder, and read excerpts from her journal so the audience could better empathize with someone struggling with an eating disorder.
The Warriors hope that Eating Disorders Awareness Week found a receptive audience at Bowdoin College. Cavanaugh said, "Warriors is a group of students dedicated to providing resources for help, prevention, and information. We are aware that we cannot rid the earth of eating disorders in one week, but if even one more person walks away from this week just a little bit more sensitive to these issues, then its worth it."