We are writing in response to the particularly offensive and unacceptable references to eating disorders published in the Feb. 12 and March 25 editions of The Nassau Weekly.
Both these issues of the publication contained vindictive attacks directed toward women with eating disorders, or should we say, the stereotypes of women with eating disorders. The author, in his perverse attempts to be "funny," conveyed several heinous misconceptions of women with eating disorders which must be remedied if our society is ever to make progress in overcoming this problem.
First of all, whether people recognize it or not, eating disorders are everywhere on this campus. Simply because a person reveals no outward signs of an eating disorder is certainly no indication that they do not have a problem. A person need not be emaciated to suffer from anorexia, and it is a well known fact that most bulimics are of a normal or above average weights. The point is, looks can be deceiving, especially on a campus where so many people are obsessed with maintaining an image of perfection.
So who suffers from this disease? It could be the woman next door to you, your girlfriend, your RA or all of the above – certainly more people that you think.
The internal qualities of eating disorders make them undeniably serious problems with severe consequences. There is nothing funny about the way they infect and spread, parasitically sucking the life out of their hosts. Eating disorders take over people's lives, governing nearly all thoughts and actions until they outweigh all other priorities. Still think they are a subject that ought to be taken lightly?
Most importantly, women do not choose to become anorexic or bulimic. The disease is one caused and proliferated by society. For The Nassau Weekly to advertise such degrading misconceptions of women with eating disorders shows highly irresponsible and immature behavior on its part. It merely serves to fuel the continuation of eating disorders by reinforcing social stereotypes and condemning women who suffer from the disease by calling them silly and superficial. Eating disorders may externally appear to be women's obsessions with appearances, but that explanation of such a deeply rooted psychological disease is superficial in itself.
Articles like the two printed in The Nassau Weekly only impede recovery from eating disorders as they reinforce the stereotypes of women and eating disorders, denying the seriousness of the disease. Most powerfully, they also instill shame within the women who have problematic eating, reducing the likelihood that they will seek the medical help they desperately need for recovery.
Until people realize the prevalence and profound implications of eating disorders on this campus, little can be done to help those who suffer from them. It is a sad and pathetic situation indeed that campus publications such as The Nassau Weekly refuse to take responsibility for the pain they inflict on many women on this campus merely for the sake of a "joke." JoAnn Sofis '00 Kristi Schmalz '99 Jordan Mossler '01 Amanda Whitehead '00 Christine Mugnolo '01
In the April 7 'Prince' article "University's first women recall challenging campus status quo," I believe your use of the term "Princeton's first women undergraduates" is a bit unclear.
The Class of 1973 was the first to include women who attended Princeton for four years, though both undergraduate classes of '71 and '72 graduated women (including my own mother).
Although the women in the classes of '71 and '7 were transfers, they deserve at least a mention of their presence at Princeton. In fact, quite a number of people, even in those classes, seem to have forgotten the women who came before the class of '71; my mother is routinely treated or introduced as a spouse at reunions by her classmates.
There were even fewer women in '71 and '72, and they had the added challenge of taking upperclass courses with men who already felt at home at Princeton. I don't believe "acceptance of women on an intellectual plane" was as universal as you make it sound.
My mother has related instances of professors advising her not to take certain classes because they were "too difficult for a girl." (She was the first female undergraduate in the Department of Biochemistry.) She also says that one of the most frustrating things about Princeton at the time was the lack of female role models.
Though there are still no tenured female professors in my department (EEB), Princeton has changed greatly in the last 28 years, and I can honestly say that I have never felt discriminated against. Stephanie Jones '98