She looks in the mirror at her sinking cheeks and her protruding rib cage. She’s getting deathly skinny by the day, but the feelings inside drive her to be skinnier.

Eating disorders are a growing problem in the United States. Too many girls go hungry day by day, not because they think they’re fat, but because they’re trying to impress "Ana."

"Ana" or "Ed" is the personification of the eating disorder as a lifestyle rather than an illness. "Ana" is a "girl" that people with this illness look to for "thinspiration" and is short for anorexia nervosa. "Ed" is the acronym of eating disorder.

The victim would rather die than upset Ana. Espra Andrus, a therapist at A Center For Change, an eating disorder clinic, says, "They worship Ana." This is why eating disorders are so terrible.

The idea that the disorder develops because of the person’s body weight concern is taught in many health classes. However, weight is a very small worry compared to the victim’s other concerns.

The disorder is described as a "coping mechanism" by an anonymous high school student who struggles with anorexia. "It rarely stands alone," said therapist Andrus, and "is usually developed to cope with other things" like depression or abuse. It is "not a result of fat thoughts," says the mother of a patient.

The same mother said that the first sign her daughter showed was definitely depression. However, they never would have guessed it would have led to an eating disorder. Her daughter would usually lie and tell her mother that she had already eaten when she hadn’t eaten anything all day. Or if she did eat, she would perform a purging ritual afterwards.

A disorder is often developed over time, often after an instance of sexual or physical abuse. Therapist Andrus states that the illness "reaches everywhere in a person’s life" and hurts the victim as well as loved ones. The siblings of the mentioned patient wish they would have known. They feel like they could have helped her if they would have known sooner.

There are "layers leading to E.D. build up," explains the patient, "and it builds up through your whole life." She says this knowingly, seeing as she was sexually and physically abused at a very young age. She had also compared herself to others. This led to frustration, which led to depression, which led to anorexia. As an overall result, she lost respect for herself as a human being.

She was not fat, but the feelings drove her to be skinny.
Don’t let this happen to someone you know. If you suspect that you or someone you know has developed an eating disorder, get help now, before it’s too late. On campus health services are available in SC 221. For more information on programs for students dealing with eating disorders contact their office at (801) 863-6074.