Katie Couric’s intimate confession about her struggles with bulimia during Monday’s interview with Demi Lovato on her talk show brings bulimia into the spotlight and makes it a perfect timing to open up the discussion about eating disorders in classrooms around the nation.
While Katie Couric focused on her guest during the show that aired on September 24, 2012, she provided more intimate and detailed information to the Associated Press in an exclusive interview after the taping of the show. She confessed that she felt that “I wasn’t good enough or attractive enough or thin enough.”
With schools about to enter the second month of the new school year, the same pressure is on many teen girls. In today’s competitive academic environment, not only looks but performance pressure can drive students to bulimia.
Katie Couric’s struggle with bulimia began as a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington, Va. Katie Couric, now 55, told AP that the pressure for her began when she was turned down by the college that she wanted to attend. In addition, Couric was struggling with her body image, her weight, and living up to the cultural ideal of a young woman’s body.
‘‘Like a lot of young women, I was struggling with my body image, and feeling like I wasn’t good enough or attractive enough or thin enough…five-foot-eight and weighing 115 pounds. It can be so difficult to embrace the body that you have if it doesn’t fit with the ideal. Women get praised for being super-thin, so you keep striving to be that way.’’
Besides the cultural ideal of what young woman should look like, many teens are exposed by the internet or peers to the misconception that being bulimic is a lifestyle. Bulimia, or also called bulimia nervosa is not a lifestyle but an eating disorder with the following characteristics:
- binge eating (consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time)
- purging (getting rid of the food)
- purging can include vomiting
- taking a laxative or diuretic
- unhealthy fasting over an extended period of time
- and/or excessive exercise
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s “Let’s Talk About Facts” brochure about anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, eating disorders affect several million people at any given time; most often those are women between the ages of 12 and 35. Katie Couric’s public acknowledgement of her bulimia provides a timely and excellent opportunity for special education professionals, health care professionals, and parents to discuss and clarify this potentially dangerous mental health topic with students.
There is a need for students to know what Katie Couric had to find out the hard way. ‘‘What I’m describing is something so many people have gone through or are going through, and it’s so damaging, both psychically and physically.’’
More about bulimia:
Lady Gaga’s bulimia: ‘I didn’t fit in, and I felt like a freak.’
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