Eating disorders were so prevalent across college campuses that I heard two crazy stories that didn’t surprise me at all:
- One girl confided that her roommate’s diet strategy included padlocking their fridge with a pig-shaped combination lock that cried out “OINK OINK! OINK OINK!” before opening up… at which point anyone who opened the fridge was more likely to lock it back up again rather than retrieving food
- Another girl at a West Coast school told me that her cafeteria supposedly powdered the lettuce in the dining halls with potato starch to reinject carbs into girls’ diets. This myth has been debunked — but belief in it is apparently prevalent enough to signify a larger problem across American campuses
For those of us who ate regular meals, it was very difficult not to feel obese on a campus populated by extremely skinny girls who maintained their figures by snacking on carrot sticks, consuming only soup for lunch, and running on the treadmill 24/7 at Pottruck Fitness Center (more on compulsive exercise, or anorexia athletica, here).
Big dilemma indeed.
This is a scan of the original drawing prior to publication. More about my stint at the DP here.
- The title of the cartoon was a reference to the featured book for the 2007-2008 Penn Reading Project. Michael Pollan’s exploration of American food culture was required reading for the freshmen, but most upperclassmen read it as well — it was hard to miss the shelves at our campus bookstore devoted to the title.* I highly recommend the book for fans of Fast Food Nation, Supersize Me, the Slow Food movement, or anyone who wants to know where their food comes from…
- The look of the cartoon was a tribute to Marisa Acocella Marchetto, the New Yorker cartoonist whose funny and incredibly moving graphic novel Cancer Vixen I was reading at the time. Also recommended reading!