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We can change our culture around eating

By Thresher Editorial Board     1/11/22 10:00pm

Recently, the Student Association introduced a resolution to structurally address disordered eating at Rice. Although the resolution contains tangible ways to mitigate this issue, we also believe that an important factor to consider is the culture on campus around eating disorders and food in general. Though this culture is not unique to Rice, we have the power to challenge it by being more conscious of how our language surrounding food affects others.

A clear stigma exists around discussing disordered eating patterns. Rather than discussing disordered eating patterns seriously and honestly, it is more common for these patterns to be passed off as jokes and only mentioned off-handedly. This needs to change in order for disordered eating to be viewed seriously so it can be addressed through structural changes as well.

At Rice, it has become not only common, but normalized to skip meals in favor of working on an assignment. Providing justification for disordered eating patterns in this way encourages those engaging in them to continue. Instead, we should all think critically about how the practice of skipping meals is problematic in the long run and should not be discussed so favorably, in order to disrupt the culture of disordered eating.

Eating in a public setting such as the servery can increase anxiety related to food which contributes to disordered eating patterns. It is crucial to be aware of comments that we may make about the food that others choose to eat, particularly in regards to portion sizes and the specific items that they choose to put on their plate. Experts preach intuitive eating to combat disordered eating patterns, and part of this means allowing people to eat what makes them feel good.

Discussions surrounding food are not limited to the servery. A large number of social gatherings at Rice include food, from college nights to club events. We must be aware of our comments about others’ choices in these situations as well. That way these events, and campus spaces in general, can become more welcoming for those suffering from disordered eating.

In some ways, the SA resolution designed to structurally address disordered eating at Rice only skims the surface of the problem at hand. Disordered eating is a habit that is primarily a function of what our culture promotes as desirable body standards. As such, it is our collective job not only to address disordered eating structurally, but also interpersonally, with the idea that many individuals working toward a common goal can change our culture for the better.

Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Savannah Kuchar, Ben Baker-Katz, Nayeli Shad, Talha Arif, Morgan Gage and Daniel Schrager. Arts & entertainment editor Morgan Gage has been recused from this editorial due to reporting on the corresponding story in our news section.

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