June 3, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 65°F


Commentary: Small remarks impact eating disorders

Editor’s Note: This is a guest commentary. The opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial board.

The glamorization of disordered eating in college is brutally real. I never thought too much about what I ate until I decided to embark on this treacherous journey otherwise known as the pursuit of higher education. With the infamous term “freshman 15” ingrained in our minds before we even set foot on campus, students tackling a new environment head-on with this slimy, negative thought pattern is a challenge. 

During my time at Ithaca College, I’ve heard people flaunt barely eating like a trophy and talk about not eating before going out to “save calories” to prepare for the consumption of alcohol. I personally entered a party and scanned the sea of girls in tiny shirts and pants, simultaneously picking apart my own appearance. Being a woman in university is hard, and the twisted part is, it shouldn’t be. While I know this topic affects both men and women, I chose in this commentary to predominantly focus on women because that perspective is what I know best.

We are a product of our own environment. When surrounded by people who talk about continuously shrinking their bodies or put down others for their appearances, it gnaws at us. We may not realize it, but it permeates our subconscious and comes out in other ways. When you are surrounded by the disordered eating culture in college, you begin to feel like you need to eat less. 

Reflecting on my first-year self, I remember looking in the mirror and thinking, “I shouldn’t have eaten before I went out. Now I am bloated.” Bloating is normal, but the people around you decide to skip dinner in order to wear a crop top. I’ve decided not to eat before I drink, my mind telling me, “If I skip this meal, I can drink more because I would’ve saved calories.” It was a dangerous game and one that could have sent me to the hospital, but that was what all my friends were doing, right?

I would order just coffee for breakfast, rationalizing it with the thought, “I ate a big dinner yesterday, I don’t need breakfast.” Now my stomach is growling in class and I feel groggy and disoriented, but I had a big dinner, so this is what I get, right? It’s nuances like these that contribute to a much larger issue. Everyone deserves to nourish and love their body.

Spending your whole life trying to shrink yourself? It’s not worth it. Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s painful, it whittles your self-esteem down to mere crumbs. All you think about is food. Substance abuse and restrictive eating appear to go hand in hand at college. While Ithaca College is a smaller school and less known for its partying, there is a prominent going-out scene here. Eating in the dining hall my first year, I remember my friends at the time talking about how they “can’t eat too much for dinner” because they planned on drinking. I would stare at my plate and pick at the food, questioning if I should skip dinner too because I wanted to drink. If all my friends weren’t going to eat, why should I? What turns into one skipped meal here and there leads to a couple of skipped meals a few times a week. This snowball effect can create a very serious eating problem, and for what?

People need to be aware of little comments they make about themselves, like, “I’m so fat, I’m never eating again!” “I barely ate today; I feel so skinny!” and others, like, “That’s all you’re eating?” and, “Oh my god, that is so much food!” because it can truly trigger someone more than they could ever know. Even if it is just a joke, it could be the reason someone decides to skip their lunch.


Natalie Tribiano (she/her) is a senior, former Life & Culture editor, Integrated Marketing Communications major. Contact her at ntribiano@ithaca.edu.