‘Andrea’s Voice’ raises awareness for bulimia nervosa

By Michelle Costa
November 5, 2009

Cabrini’s Body Image Coalition has extended its services by providing guest speakers to the college community.

The purpose of the speakers is to help students come to peace with one’s body and form an overall acceptance.

On Nov. 3 “Andrea’s Voice” was presented on behalf of those involved in this organization.

Tom and Doris Smeltzer’s daughter, Andrea, died in 1999 at the age of 19, after a one-year battle with bulimia nervosa.

They now travel around the country and speak with high schools and colleges about her death.

The importance of understanding the complexity of these illnesses is to fully grasp that eating disorders are not the cause of death, but yet the mental and physical battle they have on one’s body.

“Their mission is to promote awareness and understanding of eating disorders and related issues,” Lisa Stockton, vice president of the Body Image Coalition said.

Doris Smeltzer authored a book called “Andrea’s Voice…Silenced by Bulimia.” The book includes Andrea’s poetry, letters and journal entries.

“I think it is important for students to attend this presentation, because they need to be aware of the prevalence of eating disorders among college students,” Stockton said.

Statistics show that there is a large growth of these developing diseases and if education is not provided, young people will continue to fall into the trap of these harmful cycles.

Stockton said college campuses are a breeding ground for disordered eating habits.

Bit Hess, president of the group, said the Body Image Coalition is a group that is devoted to promoting healthy body image around campus and elsewhere, because so many Americans, young or old, male or female, feel unnecessary pressure to look a certain way due to the standards that are projected in the media and society.

“I think that young adult women are more perceptive of societal messages that convey to them the apparent importance of being thin. This is an issue that is very important to me, and I would like more people in our community to become aware of it,” Stockton said.

Hess hopes that the guest speakers will impact the college community and serve as an example that can lead individuals away from making unhealthy decisions regarding their body image.

Andrea Sussel, who is now the club adviser and a counselor, and who works with the Counseling and Psychological Services office in Grace Hall started the Body Image Coalition three years ago. The Body Image Coalition usually meets once a month in the library.

The club aims to provide education and support for people so they can make healthy and positive choices that allow them to feel comfortable in their skin.

The Body Image Coalition welcomes new members and encourages anyone who feels he or she has a problem with body image to formally contact Counseling and Psychological Services.

“I would be happy knowing we helped at least one person realize how beautiful they are, because I believe we all are beautiful in our own way

Michelle Costa

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