Self-image weighs heavily on students

The College welcomed Leslie Goldman, author of “The Locker Room Diaries,” last Thursday to speak about her problems with body image, weight and appearance, issues that affect a majority of women.

Goldman’s presentation at the College was arranged by members of Bod Squad, Vox and the Women’s Center. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where her battle with anorexia began 12 years ago.

Goldman recalled memories of spending time with friends and going to fraternity parties, but mentioned observing thin, beautiful young women at these functions, causing her to re-evaluate her own physique. She noted how girls dressed in tight clothing received attention from young men and she thought, “Why aren’t I getting attention?”

In the weeks following this turning point in Goldman’s life, she altered her diet and ran farther each day.

“In society, when you start losing weight, you get complimented,” Goldman recalled from her freshman year in college.

Her body was changing at a rapid rate, and the tall, slender Goldman weighed about 120 pounds by Thanksgiving break. When her parents saw their daughter for the first time in three months, their reaction to her appearance was one of fear and anxiety.

“They wanted me to stay home and receive treatment,” Goldman said. She was able to negotiate an agreement with her parents so she could stay at school.

To this day, Thanksgiving is still a difficult time for Goldman.

“The holidays are so inundated with food,” she said.

Goldman continued to talk about her struggles with anorexia, and made it clear that women of any age are susceptible to the disease.

“No one can make you get better,” Goldman said of receiving treatment for anorexia. During this time she learned she had a genetic predisposition to the disease from her grandfather. Goldman recalled changes in her mood and personality. “Someone who is not eating becomes very dull and sad,” she said.

Eventually, she was able to control her issues with her weight and focused on giving lectures in gyms across the country. Goldman explained she made herself a promise that she would not be a prisoner of the scale.

“If your clothes fit you, and you feel happy, it’s great to be free of that number,” Goldman said.

As the session progressed, Goldman advised audience members not to be fooled by magazine covers and advertisements that portray false images of beauty. She provided examples of airbrushing and photo manipulation techniques that major publications utilize to create images of perfection that mislead and damage the confidence of women and men across the nation.

“It was great to see the airbrushing and learn that the pictures we see aren’t real,” Courtney Brown, sophomore English/special education major, said.

For Brown, the topic of eating disorders was familiar. “I had an eating disorder and it was interesting to hear about her own struggle,” she said.

Goldman’s words touched other students, as well.

Zakiya Clark, sophomore nursing major, said, “Body image isn’t all that important. Being healthy is.”