Thursday, April 02, 2015

Women's History Month at Miami-Dade College

A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking at Miami-Dade College for Women's History Month. A number of the students in attendance, as part of a class project, had constructed life-size body collages exhibiting information about eating disorders. Here's a panoramic shot of the students with their projects, their professor, and me:

So wonderful, right? And here are some of the individual projects close up. The first is a visual representation of the emotional pain and body distortion inherent to anorexia:

The second collage highlights the relationship between eating disorders and pregnancy, commenting on the impact of disordered eating on a growing fetus:

I even got to pose with a life-size Barbie, one student's interpretation of Mattel's popular diva:

This Barbie sported post-it notes highlighting her "thin arms," "thigh gap," and other unrealistic, culturally idealized body features. Even life-size, though, her facial expression was manufactured by a printer, and she's barely three dimensional. There's just something much more compelling about real-life people, isn't there?

One of the most sobering parts of the event  occurred as I was gearing up to speak, witnessing various students, faculty members, and other passersby observe the students' creations. One middle-aged woman took a casual glance at the body projects and commented, "I wish I had an eating disorder."

It's never too late to incorporate another anecdote into a talk. . . .

You can find Does Every Woman Have an Eating Disorder? Challenging Our Nation's Fixation with Food and Weight on Amazon (as a paperback and Kindle) and at


Meliss said...

such a sad statement. Perhaps many people don't know the pain and hell of anorexia.

Always when struggling- i wished to be free. i used to look at happy people who (i thought) carried a few extra pounds. if they had good jobs and boyfriends and friends and joy, i told myself there was some possibility that i didn't have to weigh less than my 12 year old niece

Meliss said...

this post has really stuck with me. yesterday, I got my haircut. my hairdresser is the most beautiful woman i know. she is probably the most beautiful woman anyone knows. she's getting married in July and she was going on and on about how she has to get skinny for her wedding, that you can never be "too thin".

i was astounded. this woman is FLAWLESS. What a strange, sick world we live in.

Meliss said...

and one more thing - i told you this really stuck with me!

even though i know it to be breathtakingly sad and frightening and just wrong -- in my heart i understand the feeling of the woman at the college. and my hairdresser.

on an intellectual level, i know in my heart that you, indeed, CAN BE too skinny - but on some level, i love the idea of being really thin. not unhealthily so, but thin...

i wonder what the women you spoke with and who made those amazing projects - i wonder what they think.

drstaceyny said...

Meliss, as always, thanks for reading and for the insightful comments. Interesting how the rational mind can so diametrically oppose the emotional mind (which reflects our "strange, sick world"). . .