Eating disorders and fretting about one’s body image has been an issue of discussion for quite a while, however, many people are able to see humor in the disease.
Comedienne Michelle Garb presented as part of “U-MATTER”-dor week. “Fat Brain, Skinny Body,” is an hour-long presentation about various eating disorders and ways to prevent them.
Garb reflected on her own experiences with an eating disorder, with an element of humor. “In my family, being overweight was illegal,” she said during a sideshow. “I would finish only half of what was on my plate. If I was still hungry, I would suck on ice cubes. Then, I would look into the mirror for hours to find any flaws.”
Garb said outside factors compel people to change their eating habits. Her boyfriend and her first husband remarked that she was not “perfect” and Garb stopped eating and started working out. She said it took seven to eight years of treatment to return to a healthy state.
“I just struggled with it for 17 years off and on,” she said. “It wasn’t really ’til I dealt with it that I got past it. I was in denial most of my life about it and so was my family. I was skinny but I was so determined not to get fat. I was an athlete so that made it hard as well.”
In Garb’s family, there was always pressure at the dinner table to eat less than she wanted. Her stepfather was bulimic and her mother was obsessed with dieting.
“If you are upset about some situation, you eat too much or you don’t eat at all. You react in a different ways. Some people don’t eat for two or three days. They might stop eating altogether. It depends on how long it lasts,” Garb said.
Other factors can trigger eating disorders such as death of a loved one and rape, Garb said.
Garb joked about the extra pressure in people’s lives making them anorexic, bulimic, or compulsive over eater.
Images of skinny women in the media can also affect women of all ages and their perception of themselves. Garb said average individuals could not compare themselves to actors and models.
“You look at actors and you think they are happy. They are lying about how they feel and what’s going on with them,” she said providing an example of Lindsay Lohan’s experience with rehab. “You really need to love yourself.”
Garb advised students to not discuss weight or body issues but instead to set an example of healthy behavior.
Rabeeah Patail, a junior, understands the value of such events and the help they can provide. “People that suffer from anorexia, bulimia; it gives them some kind of light on what they can go through,” Patail said. Programs like these can show the worst that can happen and the best that can happen,” Patail said.