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"I would go to any length to get the food
fir a binge," she said.
Leslie's behavior isn't uncommon;
she is part of a growing number of
women at the University and nation-
wide who vomit regularly to maintain
An estimated 13 percent of college-
aged women suffer from bulimia, an
eating disorder in which women gorge
themselves and then vomit or take an
overdose of laxatives to avoid gaining
weight, according to a study by Dr.
Katherine Halmi at New York Hospital-
Cornell Medical Center.
Local eating disorder specialists, who
last year alone saw more than 200
women with bulimia, said the number
may be as high as 20 percent.
Anorexia nervosa - a related eating
disorder in which victims lose at least
25 percent of their body weight through
self-starvation - has been the focus
of media attention in recent years.
But bulimia, which psychologists now
say is more prevalent than anorexia,
especially among college womynen, has
been virtually ignored. Many
physicians, for example, refused to
treat bulimics because they regarded
the disorder as either too disgusting or
just another fad.
In a society so obsessed with weight
that fitness and diet books top the best-
seller lists, it isn't surprising that some
women take dieting to an extreme. The
pages of fashion magazines many
women scour before coming to college
are plastered with incompatible images
of sliver-thin models and hoards of fat-
The deceptive message is that
somehow the models are able to do the
impossible-eat anything they want and
stay thin. And bulimics, at least for
awhile, make the impossible come true.
Leslie started dieting her senior year
in high school, cutting down her 5 foot 5
inch frame to 110 pounds. Maintaining
her weight became the focus of her life.
"I was always looking and grabbing
how thin she was. Her obsession with
weight only masked her fears and in-
securities about starting college.
Leslie was anxious about coming to
the University. Her father died when
she was in junior high school, and she felt
guilty about leaving her mother home
Her problems grew into a preoc-
cupation with eating. She felt over-
whelmed by the unlimited food choices
in her dormitory cafeteria. Indulging in
deserts and second helpings made her
feel so guilty she forced herself to
"It got to be that I was eating every
time I socialized. I really thought it
wasn't my fault because socializing
requires that you eat. Like going to the
bar you have to have a few drinks," she
Other freshwomen, like Leslie, read
the same fashion magazines and get the
same conflicting messages, said Vivian
Meehan, director of Anorexia Nervosa
and Related Disorders (ANAD), a national
group based in Highland Park, Ill.
"The image that's projected (through
magazines) is anyone who is successful
and desirable is very thin and can eat
anything they desire. As long as those
two ideas are being projected as a con-
sistent goal for women to achieve,
there's nothing you can do to prevent
eating disorders," she said.
IT'S NOT just anorexics and bulimics
who are striving to be thin. An in-
creased emphasis on dieting and fitness
has made a preoccupation with weight
quite common. A survey by resear-
chers at Ohio State University found
that 10 percent of those women
questioned were preoccupied with their
weight and had bulimic tendencies. In
sororities, the number jumped to 16
percent and was 23 percent among dan-
cers, according to the study.
The University is no exception.
sorority members make no secret
about the fact that many of their
housemates are excessive dieters.
"One hundred percent of my sorority
is hung up about their weight," said an
LSA junior who asked not to be iden-
At meals in her sorority, most women
bring their own diet salad dressing.
They also keep the refrigerators
stocked with tuna packed in water, diet
soft drinks, and grapefruits.
Motor City Jam ill
WR IF / Budweiser
8 p.m., Friday, September 23
By Susan Makuch
H E MAY BE a Motown boy, but
his musical roots dig deep into the
rockabilly field. He was born and raised
by the sounds of his idol, Smoky Robin-
son - but he has constantly been com-
pared to the likes of Buddy Holly, the
original rockabilly master. Who is this
man torn between two worlds? It's
Marshall Crenshaw, a budding
musician who grew up in Berkley, Mi.,
knows what it's like to go from
unknown, struggling songwriter to top-
of-the charts hitmaker -all in a matter
of a few short years.
He began his career in local bands for
which Marshall wrote many of the
original songs and sang leadvocals. "I
realized there was no point in con-
tinuing in those bands - I knew I could'
go farther on my own," Crenshaw said
when he was in Ann Arbor last year.
His first move in breaking his motor
city ties was to relocate in Los Angeles.
Crenshaw began by peddling songs to
record companies. They were com-
positions he now thinks were just
"terrible." So did the execs he was
trying to impress - there were many
doors slammed in his inexperienced
Marshall: Motown baby
It didn't take long for Crenshaw to
devise a alternate course of action. He
returned to Detroit and set his sights on
something a little different. A letter-
perfect rendition of the Lennon/McCar-
tney hit "I Should Have Known Better,"
by Marshall and his brother Robert
stimulated interest in the producers of
Beatlemania. When they saw a picture
of Marshall in his Lennon-like, wire
rimmed glasses, they were hooked.
Crenshaw was promptly hired to por-
tray Lennon in the west coast company
After two years of a Lennon life,
Crenshaw decided to leave and "be by
myself, or at least try." So he formed
the band he is currently playing with
- brother Robert (on drums) and
guitarist Chris Donnato.
His hunch about venturing out on his
own was right. He has skyrocketed to
the top of the pop charts via such hits as
"Someday, Someway," "Rockin'
Around in NYC," and "Whenever
You're on My Mind." When it comes to
favorites Marshall coyly avoids iden-
tifying a single song. "I like 'em all," he
said. But what about picking an ab-
solute fave? "Well, I like 'Someday,
Someway,' but I also like 'Cynical Girl.'
I think they're probably the best I've
ever written," he finally admitted.
Although he is associated with
Beatle-type music and the Buddy Holly-
rockabilly sound, Crenshaw is still a
Motown boy at heart. "Smoky (Robin-
son) is my hero," he said. "I believe he
is the greatest purveyor of pop music in
my lifetime," he stated emphatically.
"There's nothing more to say - he's
my idol, my only goal in this business is
to work w
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Refrigerator: The obsession
'I would go to any length to get the
food for a binge.'
my stomach and feeling how flat my
stomach was, and looking in the mirror
to see if my cheeks were getting fat-
ter," she said.
She first tried forcing herself to vomit
the summer before her first year at the
University; a friend showed her how af-
ter they had overeaten, but she didn't
think it was "weird."
But once in college, she became trap-
ped in a vicious cycle of binging and
Leslie's daily ritual started with din-
ner in the dorm cafeteria. Still not
satisfied, she would go to her room and
order a pizza, and then race to the
snack bar for ice cream and crumb
cakes. The 6rdeal ended with Leslie
throwing up in the basement bathroom.
Although she was worried someone
would find out, she thought it was the
only way she could stay thin. Unlike
her friends who worried about gaining
the infamous "freshman 10," Leslie
knew she had the problem licked.
But the problem had Leslie caught in
a game of measuring her self worth by
"Everyone keeps tabs on what
everyone eats" she said.
What distinguishes a bulimic from
other women who are obsessed with
dieting is their irrational fear of gaining
weight and their family background
which makes them prone to the self-
But the traditional sterotype of a
bulimic or anorexic as the perfect
straight "A" student from a wealthy
family no longer holds. A study by
ANAD showed that eating disorders are
breaking social, religious, and age
Of the one in 200 women nationwide
who are anorexic or bulimic, 51 percent
are Protestant, 35.5 percent Catholic,
and 7.5 percent Jewish, according to the
ANAD study. The average family in-
come is about $30,000 a year, and the
median age for bul=mia is 27 and 14 for
ANAD has received reports,
however, of 80-year-old women who are
bulimic and even six-year-old children
so fearful of gaining weight that they
force themselves to vomit, Meehan
At the University, most bulimics
seem to fit the traditional stereotype,
said Ken Castagna, head of the Univer-
sity's eating disorders clinic.
Castagna, a social worker, has
treated more than 200 women with
eating disorders since his clinic opened
last summer. Most of the women com.e
from demanding families who put a lot
of emphasis on appearance and
Bulimics usually maintain a normal
or slightly below normal weight and
work hard at looking like they don't
have a problem, Castagna said.
Bulimics may be competent and con-
fident during the day, but when they are
alone at night, they feel frantic and turn
The disorder becomes a crutch, a
way to avoid pressures and expec-
tations with which the women feel they
can no longer cope.
While all freshpersons must adjust to
newfound independence and respon-
sibilitiesdat college, a bulimic'sfamily
has usually deprived her of the essen-
tial skills she needs to adapt.
Bulimics often grow up in a sheltered
environment where they are surroun-
ded with every convenience they need,
but not without paying a price. Parents
who demand perfection from their
daughters don't allow them to make
mistakes and learn how to survive on
their own. This can make college a
complete shock, said Castagna.
Once the women get to college, they
are terrified and unsure if they really
want to grow up. Bulimia is their way
of holding up a red flag and saying
"everything is not okay, I'm not the
perfect girl everyone thinks," he said.
Castagna lectured to a group of 200
high school students from Birmingham,
Mich. this summer, and like most
students from upper middle class
suburbs, they have had little experien-
ce coping with tension, he said.
"For Birmingham girls, they don't
think there's a world outside of Bir-
mingham. Imagine that group coming
to the University in a world they have
not had to cope with. It can lead one to
feel out of control and looking for ways
to establish control," Castagna said.
Weight is a concrete area these
women can control, he said.
Most bulimics he sees are excep-
tionally pretty and emaculately
dressed, obviously putting a lot of ef-
fort into their appearance.
" But it is all a show because these
women have learned to hide their in-
security, confusion, and distress by fin-
ding a quick, but destructive solution.
It seems ironic that women with the
best upbringings, good grades, and
promising futures are driving them-
selves crazy with self doubt, said
psychologist Judy Kronberg.
"What seems to happen is
somewhere along the line they learn
that who they are and what they need or
think isn't important. What they
do matters," said Kronberg, who heads
a self-help group for eating disorders at
St. Josephs Hospital.
Bulimics have been taught to be per-
fect, well-behaved little girls, but they
haven't developed a core or a strong
base to cope with the academic and
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Crenshaw: Rockabilly roots
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