“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

This common pro-anorexia slogan was printed inside Jonathon Adler planners and calendars for sale at the Stag Spirit Shop.

Vice President of Student Affairs Jim Fitzpatrick was unaware of the quote on the shelves – and it was not easy to locate because it was printed on the inside of the planner under the January tab. It was not boldly displayed on the cover, but was the quote for the month of January 2013.

The quote originated from model Kate Moss and is commonly associated with pro-anorexia sites and organizations. Moss came under much heat for promoting the slogan because she is such a familiar face in the fashion industry and is a role model to young girls across the country.

ANOREXIA DEFINED

Phyllis L. Weihs, M.S., a counselor in the Fairfield University Psychological Services, believes that eating disorders are no joking matter. Weihs explained: “According to the DSM IV, Eating disorders are characterized by two specific diagnoses. Anorexia Nervosa, is the refusal of an individual to maintain a normal body weight, is intensely afraid of gaining weight and exhibits a significant disturbance in the perception of his or her body and in females the absence of at least three consecutive menstrual cycles.”

Weihs continued to explain the second most common diagnosis, “Bulimia Nervosa, is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate compensatory behaviors such as self induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives, diuretics or other medications; fasting or excessive exercise.”

The quote printed on the planners and calendars in the bookstore promotes being thin as a superior body type and Weihs explained that, “Eating Disorders are usually more prevalent in highly industrialized societies, in which there is an abundance of food and in which, for females, being considered attractive is linked to being thin.”

STUDENTS REACT

Senior Julie Labbadia was the first person to discover the planner in the on-campus bookstore. Labbadia made a trip to the bookstore on a day in late August looking for a planner and was surprised by what she saw.

“I was flipping through the planners and I saw it and just thought it was wrong. I feel that the bookstore selling something like that is promoting eating disorders like they’re OK. I personally would rather eat food that tastes good than be stick thin,” said Labbadia.

Labbadia posted a photo of the quote to her Facebook and received 32 “likes” and 15 comments, mostly from Fairfield University students.

Senior Samantha Goodnow found out about the planner through Labbadia’s Facebook post. Goodnow said: “I have seen that exact quote online on Pinterest and other places for weight loss motivation, but I personally think the quote goes beyond supporting a healthy lifestyle. There is a difference between losing weight the healthy way and starving yourself, and I think the quote printed in the agenda isn’t a positive form of motivation.”

Senior Dan Bruno offered the male perspective. “When I first saw the planner, I was surprised,” he said. “No wonder college students have issues.”

However, the Fairfield University bookstore was unaware that they were even selling such content until Tuesday afternoon. Fitzpatrick said that he thinks the quotation is “extremely offensive to someone who either is dealing with an eating disorder or has a friend or a family member that is dealing with an eating disorder and it is not something that I take lightly.”

ADMINISTRATION SUPPORTS STUDENTS

As soon as Fitzpatrick got wind of the situation, he immediately went to the on-campus bookstore and walked through with two managers and could not find any of the content. He then drove to the downtown bookstore and he again had no luck finding any of the offensive material.

Once Fitzpatrick was approached by The Mirror and shown the planners and calendars that were still being sold in the bookstore, he was shocked and went directly to the bookstore to remove any remaining planners and calendars.

Fitzpatrick is planning on approaching the Follett Corporation, the distributor of the planner, so that they are made aware of the content being sold. Over 900 schools use Follett as a provider, so the discontent from Fairfield University could have a huge impact on schools around the country.

“In all my years of working with Follett, I’m pretty sure this is the first time that something like this has come up … one of the beauties of the University is that you are constantly learning and I learned something this week in terms of a certain
quote,” Fitzpatrick said.

Eating disorders are extremely prevalent among college students and the statistics only back this up. It is said that eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, “a study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders reported that 5 – 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease; 18-20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years and only 30 – 40% ever fully recover.”

Fairfield University offers a lot of support when it comes to eating disorders.

Weihs stated that there is an Eating Disorders Treatment Team “consisting of medical staff from the Health Center and clinicians from Counseling & Psychological Services.”

Fitzpatrick supports the mission of the Counseling Center whole-heartedly. “If it offends anyone at this school, it offends us, and we’ll remove it.”

It is encouraged that students who need help with disordered eating issues contact Fairfield University Counseling and Psychological Services at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2146 or by email at counseling@fairfield.edu.

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