Debate Magazine

Drinking + Anorexia

By Starofdavida
Drinking + AnorexiaEating disorders are much toocommon in today’s society: 24 million people in America alone suffer from them, andonly 10% are officially treated. Students are particularly prone to eatingdisorders, as 95% of women who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12and 25, when most people are in school or recently graduated. Unfortunately,there is a new eating disorder trend among women college students calleddrunkorexia.
Identified in a New York Times article in 2008, drunkorexia, an unofficial medical term, is characterized as “adisturbing blend of behaviors: self-imposed starvation or bingeing and purging,combined with alcohol abuse.” Virtually, college and university women arestarving themselves or vomiting their food in order to party at night and drinkup a storm. A University of Missouri study foundthat 1 in 6 women suffer from drunkorexia.
Needless to say, I find thisextremely disturbing on many levels. The medical implications of this must beabsolutely horrendous. Drinking alcohol on an empty stomach is never a goodidea, and I can’t imagine that purposely not ingesting anything but alcohol forany stretch of time can be good for the body.
I think the prevalence ofdrunkorexia (1 in 6! My god, that’s almost 20%!) showcases two big problemsamong today’s young people: peer pressure and eating disorders. Studies haveshown that when a person hangs around with people who abuse drugs, alcohol, andthe like, he or she will copy their behaviors in order to fit in. However, whenhe or she has moved on to another group of friends, he or she will not longerbother with the drugs and alcohol. College campuses, especially sororities andfraternities, are notorious for the wild partying and drugs and alcohol thatcome along with it. As a result, it’s not really so shocking that students wantto drink in order to fit in with their friends.
And when you think about it, it’snot so shocking that the girls who drink often in order to fit in want to cutdown on their calorie intake. Chances are they’re dieting in the first place(91% of college women in one survey reported dieting to lose weight), and whenyou add all of the calories from alcohol, it’s a lot of pressure to stay thin.Enter eating disorder.
Drunkorexics, like other womenwho suffer from eating disorders, show that our society places way too much importanceon how women look, to the point that they feel the need to starve themselves inorder to look good.
Universities need to do somethingabout this growing trend. My suggestions:
  1. Have on-campus free panels discussing the issue to raise awareness.
  2. Train campus medical teams to recognize the signs of drunkorexia.
  3. Distribute brochures and pamphlets to female students about the harmful nature of this lifestyle.
  4. Encourage drunkorexics to seek help if they need it, whether from professors, peers, or feminist outlets on campus.
If schools work hard to deal withthis issue, hopefully it can be kept under control. Drunkorexia is only a manifestationof our society’s ridiculous pressure on women and girls to look a certain way.Until these expectations are abolished, this eating disorder, like every otherone, needs to be handled.

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