Letter to the Editor | Sorority eating disorder culture needs acknowledgement and intervention

By Lauren Trimble

Trigger warning: This column discusses eating disorders.

As a Greek life alumna, my eyes were opened during my undergraduate career to the work that needs to be done within Greek life to address disordered eating and the encouragement of such practices by those within the organization.

I remember, on multiple occasions, hearing sorority women encourage one another to skip meals, exercise to the point of exhaustion and practice extreme dieting. While I can acknowledge that there is a culture of disordered eating running rampant across many other organizations across the nation, I have seen firsthand how toxic this commentary can become within sororities on college campuses especially.

Encouragement of “drinking your calories” on the weekends is just one topic that brought me to question my own relationship with food after having spent multiple years myself in therapy discussing my own eating disorder.

My point is that even if you are well equipped with knowledge of intuitive eating and how disordered eating causes physical and emotional damage to our body and mind, without universities acknowledging that an issue exists within their own Greek life organizations, there is little hope to break this cycle of toxic relationships being built with food among sorority women.

An acknowledgment of the issue would be progress, but what is needed is direct intervention on college campuses and in Greek life communities. A possibility is in social workers, counselors and mental health professionals providing annual presentations to Greek life organizations on harmful rhetoric surrounding food restriction, the role that comparison (especially amongst young women) plays in disordered eating and ways to be kinder to ourselves and each other.

While this is a small step, it is a beginning in addressing a damaging dialogue that has been instilled in Greek life organizations at universities across the nation.

 

Lauren is a graduate student in Social Work.

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