The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

All eating disorders not alike, speaker says

By Taylor Green/reporter

Eating disorders don’t discriminate. Individuals of all ages, sexes, ethnicities and backgrounds are affected, the executive director of The Elisa Project told South students Feb. 2.

Rick and Leslie McCall founded The Elisa Project in 1999 in memory of their daughter Elisa, who at 20 took her own life after suffering for several years with an eating disorder, Sharon Seagraves said.

Following Elisa’s death, her parents discovered a journal in which she had written about her deadly disorder and said she wanted them to use her experience as a way to help others.

Many people are led to believe that eating disorders affect only young women, but this is far from the truth, Seagraves said. The Elisa Project wants the community to realize this fact.

“Children as young as 5 or 6 years of age, women in their late 40s, 50s, even 60s, as well as men are all struggling with eating disorders,” she said.

Several factors contribute to the formation of an eating disorder, but media scrutiny and pressure are among the leading factors, Seagraves said.

“Our culture has focused on the ‘ultra-thin’ ideal. Those bodies that models have are only attainable to about 2 percent of the population,” she said. “The whole concept of self-worth and identity — all of us feel like we somehow don’t measure up.”

The Elisa Project wants people to realize that early diagnosis and treatment is important, Seagraves said.

“Only one in 10 people who struggle with eating disorders get treatment, and they have a mortality rate of up to 20 percent,” she said.

An eating disorder and disordered eating are different, Seagraves said.

“It gets back to people’s preoccupation with food, weight and body size,” she said. “People start to focus on the internal struggle and not external things. They begin to work out all of the time just to lose weight and not to become healthier.”

Disorders may change, Seagraves said.

Some people may try starving themselves but then turn to bulimia or binge eating when starvation doesn’t work.

The key is to “learn as much as you can, be honest and caring, but firm,” she said.

The Elisa Project’s vision is to eliminate eating disorders, Seagraves said.

“We want to work ourselves out of a job,” she said. “We want to do what we can to help the diagnosis of individuals, and we offer professional education.”

Seagraves emphasized the need for education and help.

“Eating disorders are something that impact all of us,” she said. “We want to get everyone in the community together to put a stop to this.”

For more information about The Elisa Project or volunteer opportunities, visit www.theelisaproject.com.

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