Hunger for desire

By Joshua Kaplan

The University of Virginia (UVA), is over 800 miles away from Champaign, Ill., but in only one week at the U of I, I can already see that people are just as focused on their appearance here as they are there. UVA is ranked as one of the fittest universities in the nation, but in my opinion, “fit” stood for “Famished in Training.” What begins as a healthy diet one day can easily become an overwhelming obsession the next. A healthy exercise regimen is a great thing, but it can lead to a routine of compensatory behaviors for eating “poorly.” The truth is, you don’t have to be a walking skeleton to have an eating disorder.

I probably just lost any guy that was reading this because let’s face it, only girls have eating disorders. For God’s sake, one of the first opinion articles of the year stated, “Let’s admit it; guys don’t struggle as much with weight as women do.” Simply put, that is not true. There is plenty of research out there if you are so ambitious, or you just don’t trust me. I know because I have experienced it first hand and second hand. I have loads of journal pages detailing my own struggles, and I can talk about at least twenty other guys who clearly struggle with eating disorders.

It is true that the majority of diagnosed cases of eating disorders are among females. For many reasons, women tend to strive for physical perfection in order to be desirable. I am not going to go into the psychology of the matter because the fact remains that everybody is different. Our bodies are wired to operate at a certain weight that is individual to each person. Dieting, excessive exercising, restricting foods and purging are just some of the many ways in which people try to alter their bodies. Some people don’t realize the emotional and cognitive toll that they pay in manipulating their body in such ways.

If a person’s goal is to be special and desirable, why would you want to go out of your way to look like someone else? For girls it may be a model or celebrity, or even just the girls walking down the street who make all the guys turn their heads. For men it might be the ripped guy pumping iron at the gym, or similarly, the guy who has his arm around ten girls. The only thing that everybody has in common is that they’re different. Be yourself and love yourself because that is the only person you will be with for the rest of your life. If you can, use the resources on campus. There is the Counseling Center, the McKinley Mental Health Clinic, or the Champaign County Mental Health Center. There is nothing to be ashamed of, but there is a lot to lose if you let it continue. I would personally tell anybody anything they want to know if it meant there was even one less case of an eating disorder ruining someone’s life.