Today: Apr 21, 2024

‘Andrea’s Voice’ sheds light on eating disorders

Elizabeth DishianStaff Writer

Andrea Smeltzer was a freshman in college when her struggle with bulimia came to an end in June 1999.

“Electrolyte imbalance, from purging, caused her heart to stop beating,” said Doris Smeltzer, Andrea’s mother.

Andrea’s Voice was a presentation given by Andrea Smeltzer’s parents Tom Smeltzer and Doris. Tom has a master’s degree in education and Doris Smeltzer has a master’s in counseling and psychology.

“I had heard about other universities having this as a program and we wanted to bring someone to campus to support our eating disorders awareness month,” said Denise Zack, counselor at Southern.

Walking down the road towards an eating disorder can lead to habitual patterns in life: bulimia or anorexia nervosa, amongst others, said Zack.

“I wish more students knew about the dangers and how serious an eating disorder can be,” said Zack. “We had a great turn out tonight, which means more people are getting educated.”

Andrea was 19 years old and attended Pitzer College in California. She majored in international business. She wanted to save the world one day, according to Doris.

Andrea left behind journals that her parents use during presentations that they give on eating disorders.

“Our hope is that through Andrea’s words people can find a new understanding,” said Doris. “Through these presentations, we can continue Andrea’s dream to try and save the world.”

Information is the key to help people that are ignorant about eating disorders, said Doris.

“It truly is only through education and speaking out,” she said, “that the stigmatisms with eating disorders can come out.”

Doris said people need to love their bodies the way they are and stop fat talk, body bashing or food talk.

“I have a ‘no-fat talk’ sign outside of the Fitness Center and my office,” said Jessica

Scibek, Fitness Center assistant director.

According to Smeltzer, people also need to challenge the diet industry and re-learn how to eat intuitively and do not tolerate size bias.

“Healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes,” she said.

The female body must gain 120 percent of its body fat around the age of 20, said Doris. That was something the Andrea did not know.

In one of her journal entries, Andrea writes how in American culture there is no such thing as too thin and she has to remember to win this war against her body, referring to her battle with bulimia.

“I’m trying to sculpt this body into something more attractive,” said Tom, reading from one of Andrea’s journal entries.

Doris said when people have a war against their own bodies, biology will always win.

“Eating disorders,” she said, “kill more then any other psychological epidemic.”

Eating disorders begin long before someone has the first clinical symptoms. Disorders can be caused by a response to a deeper emotional problem or issue, according to Doris.

“Andrea thought she could control her eating disorder and that her eating disorder was simply a phase that she was going through,” she said.

Andrea’s symptoms did not fit the exact clinical definition of an eating disorder, said Doris. Andrea never thought that bulimia was her problem, until it was too late.

“One can be unhealthy and not even know it,” said Doris. “But healing is possible.”

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