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Panel discusses eating disorders, body image

Emily Schrank | Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eating disorders and body image issues are a major part of the competition and perfectionism present among Notre Dame students, panelists said Wednesday evening.

The Gender Relations Center (GRC) held a panel discussion, “Perfectly Disordered: Eating Disorders, Body Image and College Life,” Wednesday night as a part of Body Image and Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

The event featured a student panel of GRC peer educators who discussed the pressures facing different groups at Notre Dame.

Junior Victoria Hadlock talked about major pressures facing all students and possible ways to alleviate those pressures.

“There is certainly a sense of needing to be perfect or needing to be the smartest,” she said.

Hadlock said she found a happier balance and moved away from her “type A” personality by getting involved in something she was passionate about.

“Find a group of friends or a niche where you can really be yourself and feel comfortable,” she said. “Appreciate friendships because they are what get us through the constant pressures knocking on our door everyday.”

Sophomore Elliott Pearce focused on the body image issues that face many male students.

“Many people think eating disorders and body image issues only pertain to women,” he said. “They don’t realize that guys have a lot of pressures too.”

Pearce said there is an idea that men are supposed to be in control all the time and many men choose to compromise their health in order to live up to this ideal.

“Manhood is not about physical appearance,” he said. “It’s about what you do with the gifts you have.”

Pearce offered the example of Rudy, who fought against all odds to make his dream come true.

“Everybody has something that they do that makes them who they are,” he said. “And that’s where you should draw your strength from.”

Senior Nate Geary, a member of the men’s swimming and diving team, focused on the pressures facing student-athletes.

“We’re always told that we are students first and athletes second,” he said. “But a lot of times, this isn’t true or possible.”

Geary discussed another stereotype that exists on campus: “Domers” and “dumbers.”

“People think that only students are the actual Domers, while the student-athletes are the dumbers,” he said. “There is definitely an added pressure in wanting to prove this stereotype wrong.”

Val Staples, a staff clinician in the University Counseling Center, concluded with solutions on how to create a healthy and supportive campus.

Staples said the best thing to do is to sit down and talk to a friend that you think is having difficulty or feeling pressured.

“There is no wrong way to let someone know that you care about them or are worried about them,” she said.