The Brain Issue: Mirror image

%22Every+day+I+would+go+to+my+studio+and+I%E2%80%99d+be+in+a+tight+leotard+comparing+myself+for+a+really+long+time+in+a+giant+mirror%2C%22+said+Claire+Beck.
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The Brain Issue: Mirror image

"Every day I would go to my studio and I’d be in a tight leotard comparing myself for a really long time in a giant mirror," said Claire Beck.

Bismah Syed

"Every day I would go to my studio and I’d be in a tight leotard comparing myself for a really long time in a giant mirror," said Claire Beck.

Bismah Syed

Bismah Syed

"Every day I would go to my studio and I’d be in a tight leotard comparing myself for a really long time in a giant mirror," said Claire Beck.

As she watched her reflection leap across the dance floor, the large mirror covering the wall in her dance studio reflects her along with her classmates. She couldn’t help but compare herself to the other girls. Sixty-nine percent (225/328) of KHS students reported knowing someone who has struggled with an eating disorder and 12% (43/345) of students reported having an eating disorder themselves.

[Breaking] my leg was a catalyst for the actual eating disorder. I started really restricting my calorie intake and I was obsessed with every specific thing that I ate and I would count each chip that I would have.”

— Claire Beck

According to Dr. Carrie Medelman, AP Psychology teacher, nobody knows the exact cause of eating disorders. Medelman said people discover eating disorders are more likely to occur when a person has a genetic predisposition to them.

“We’re finding out that eating disorders aren’t so much about the food aspect but more about the compulsive aspect, and that becomes more of a genetic predisposition,” Medelman said. “In the [future] we might know more about the genetic piece, but I think culture matters as well. Whether someone manifests through [obsessive compulsive disorder] or [an] anxiety issue or a food-based issue, I think depends on what they’re exposed to early on.”

Claire Beck, junior, said in eighth grade she started to worry about her weight and freshman year she started counting calories. Her therapist diagnosed her with OSFED (Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder not otherwise specified) in her sophomore year. Beck believes environmental factors played a big role in the development of her OSFED.

“I’m on poms, but I used to do ballet and it was really important to me,” Beck said. “It was a huge part of my life. I was not super thin like some ballerinas are, so I kind of adopted a classic idea that you need to be super thin to be a good ballerina.”

The summer after her freshman year, she went to poms camp despite having a bad ankle injury and ended up breaking her leg during a performance. After she broke her leg she began restricting her diet, counting calorie intake and being hyper-focused on her eating habits.

“[Breaking] my leg was a catalyst for the actual eating disorder,” Beck said. “I started really restricting my calorie intake and I was obsessed with every specific thing that I ate and I would count each chip that I would have.”

Every day I would go to my studio and I’d be in a tight leotard comparing myself for a really long time in a giant mirror.”

— Claire Beck

Beck’s eating disorder continued into her sophomore year. She wasn’t getting enough sleep but also wasn’t eating enough. After school, she would go to poms practice hungry. When her friends told her she looked tired, she told them it was solely a lack of sleep; but she was struggling with an eating disorder.

“For me it got be half the day I would think about food and I got distracted in class cause I’d be thinking about [food],” Beck said. “Subconsciously I might have known that [I had] an eating disorder.”

Although Beck’s symptoms don’t correlate with anorexia or bulimia, Beck’s therapist recognized she has an eating disorder that is in its own category. Beck is still seeing a therapist and recovering from her eating disorder.

“Every day I would go to my studio and I’d be in a tight leotard comparing myself for a really long time in a giant mirror,” Beck said. “There’s a giant general pressure on females to achieve a very unrealistic body type and that was definitely part of it.”

According to Erin Rimkus, registered nurse (RN), there are different types of eating disorders. Rimkus said some signs of general eating disorders would be noticing that someone is becoming withdrawn, noticeable loss of weight in the case of anorexia, increased anxiety, scared of going out to eat or eating in front of other people. OSFED is usually a combination of eating disorders. It is if someone doesn’t have a very specific diagnosis, but experienced symptoms of a combination of different eating disorders.

“I didn’t tell myself that I had an eating disorder but I knew what I was doing to myself,” Beck said. “I just didn’t want to believe that it was really an issue.”