Eating Disorders and the Menlo Community: Preface

Staff Illustration: Lauren Lawson.

Staff Illustration: Lauren Lawson.

Tessa Frantz, Spread Editor

Note: This story is the first in a six-part package about eating disorders and the Menlo community. It was also originally intended to be in the October 2020 47.1 print edition of The Coat of Arms but did not print due to complications.

———

In this issue’s spread, The Coat of Arms is discussing a problem that, although is not exclusive to Menlo, has and continues to impact our community. It is a problem that is seldom discussed in a school setting yet impacts the lives of millions of people globally. Through this spread, CoA hopes to help increase positive conversations surrounding eating disorders and shed light on a matter that has long been a taboo topic. Although eating disorders affect people of all ages, races, sexual orientations and genders in all areas of the world, CoA wrote this spread to validate the stories and experiences of members of our community.

In this spread, there are two stories from Menlo community members, both of whom have agreed to share their names. CoA hopes that they will be respected for their honesty and willingness to share such sensitive material. There is also information from Menlo School counselors Jake Fauver and Tracy Bianchi on how to best support friends and family with an eating disorder. 

There are many different types of eating disorders; however, the two that are discussed here are anorexia and bulimia. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, or NEDA, anorexia nervosa is “an eating disorder characterized by weight loss. […] People with anorexia generally restrict the number of calories and the types of food they eat. Some people with the disorder also exercise compulsively, purge via vomiting and laxatives, and/or binge eat.” Bulimia nervosa is “a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating,” according to NEDA.

According to NEDA, young people with eating disorders between the ages of 15 and 24 have 10 times the risk of death compared to their same-aged peers. Eating disorders pose a significant threat to one’s health and are not a topic to be taken lightly.

While CoA is writing to continue a conversation, we also want to note that this topic is sensitive and could be triggering to some readers. Please read with empathy to better understand the culture surrounding eating disorders in social media, our school and in society as a whole.