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I Am Strong, Not Skinny: Molly’s Story

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Fairfield chapter.

This week, February 23rd through March 1st, celebrates an important cause that most people haven’t even heard of: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Eating disorders are extremely prevalent in our society. Statistically, up to 24 million people in the US, of all ages and genders, currently suffer from eating disorders. Out of all mental illnesses, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate. Even more shocking, 91% of women surveyed on college campuses have attempted to control their weight through dieting. Consequently, 86% of eating disorders are onset by age 20.

All of these statistics prove how vitally important it is to raise awareness at Fairfield University because it’s in this environment that eating disorders are the most common. As scary as all these statistics may seem, it is important to remember that a change is possible, and that change can be you.

Eating disorders are a cause that I hold very close to my heart- having struggled with one myself.

I remember when it all began. It was my sophomore year of high school and my cross-country career had really started to take off. I had run cross-country ever since I could remember, but it was during my sophomore year when I got really serious about it. I had made the All-Conference team as a freshman and was consistently the best runner on my team. I felt pressure from my coaches, teammates, and parents to keep up my pristine career and excel in my remaining three seasons.  

I began to cutback on my food intake and made my workouts longer and more intense. My lunches went from a whole sandwich, to half of a sandwich, to no sandwich. I remember watching my classmates eat Oreos at lunch, wishing I could be that carefree.

I spent the summer of my sophomore year doing one thing: running. I didn’t go out, I didn’t see my friends, and I didn’t do anything a normal high school girl does during summer vacation. I went to bed by 8 p.m. to prevent myself from eating and woke up early to run the next morning. Everyday, no matter how hot and humid the weather was, I would force myself to hit the pavement for at least an hour. My body was wasting away and my stomach was constantly growling. I would fight the urge to eat by either sleeping or working out more. I looked forward to dinner every night because that was the only meal I allowed myself to eat.

My annual physical came at the end of the summer and my doctor was shocked when the scale revealed I had lost 15 lbs. in the past year, dwindling from an already petite weight of 104, to 89 lbs. My doctor asked what was going on and I finally broke down. I had known I had a problem for a while, but I finally realized I wanted to get better. I didn’t want to let my eating disorder beat me. I wanted to beat it. I had already accomplished the hardest part of recovery: admitting I had a problem.

Recovery isn’t an easy task. Although I never had to go to inpatient treatment, I went through intense therapy and saw a nutritionist multiple times a week. Throughout my recovery, my nutritionist threatened to take running away if I didn’t meet my set weight and nutrition goals.

Finally, on November 16, 2009, my dream came true. I got a call from the head cross-country coach at Fairfield University offering me a scholarship for the 2010 school year. I had reached my goal of running Division I cross-country in college, and I was making huge strides in my recovery from my eating disorder.

Although I would never say somebody could ever be 100% recovered from an eating disorder, I have made great progress. Are there days when I wake-up and wish I were skinnier? Absolutely. Do I feel self-conscious sometimes? Definitely. My eating disorder will always lurk in the back of my mind. However at the end of the day, I know a number on the scale can never define my, or anyone else’s for that matter, happiness. Happiness comes from within, not from a number on the scale. Scales don’t take into consideration how smart you are, how talented you are, or how kind, caring, and loving you are…all much more important traits than a concoction of numbers.

I challenge us all to do something this during this awareness week. If you are someone who regularly weighs yourself, I challenge you to hide your scale for the week and see how you feel. Instead of focusing on whether you are a pound or two lighter today, why not focus on what a loyal friend you are or the A you got on your test? I guarantee by the end of the week you will wonder why you even step on the scale as often as you.

Looking back on my high school days, being 89 lbs. didn’t make me happy. I was miserable all the time and at certain times, not a great person to be around. I realized that being skinnier doesn’t make me a better runner. I have now completed four years of Division I Cross-Country, was named team captain my sophomore year, and I ran times identical to high school-when I was 30 lbs. thinner.

Today, I cherish the simplest things like eating the Oreos I always envied in high school, having a beer at an Oriole’s game with my dad, and splitting a brownie sundae with my best friend.

I learned to embrace my body. I am an athletic girl. I have boobs, a butt, strong legs and arms, because I run. I am strong, not skinny, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Week, Her Campus has launched a campaign entitled the #LovingMe project, which I strongly feel Fairfield students should get involved in. And don’t be afraid to participate if you’re a boy! Eating disorders affect people of all ages and genders.

The campaign involves posting a picture of something you love about yourself to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using the hashtag #LovingMe. Simply mention Her Campus in your caption, and at the end of the week a photo album will be compiled with all the pictures.

Here at Fairfield, members of our social media team will be around campus asking people to write down things they love about themselves on a piece of paper and taking pictures to share on our website. Feel free to also share a photo on social media and mention @hcfairfieldu in the caption.

YOU can be the difference in conquering eating disorders, so lets all make this week a positive one by loving each other and ourselves.

It is encouraged that students who need help with disordered eating issues contact Fairfield University Counseling and Psychological Services at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2146 or by email at counseling@fairfield.edu. If you feel too scared to get help from counseling, feel free to email me at molly.leidig@student.fairfield.edu, I understand what you’re going through and would be more than happy to help you in any way that I can!



Molly Leidig is a bubbly Fairfield University senior Communication major with a minor in Journalism. She is originally from Delaware (YES, Delaware is a state!) and hopes to live in the big apple after graduation. In her time at Fairfield, she was captain of the Cross-Country team, Coffee-Break editor at the Fairfield Mirror, and currently interns at Marie Claire magazine. She enjoy chocolate, kisses & coffee. Follow her on Instagram/Twitter @MollDollTrouble.
Danielle was previously the Deputy Editor at Her Campus, where she oversaw social and content strategy, lifestyle, beauty, fashion, news, and entertainment. Prior to joining Her Campus, Danielle worked at House Beautiful as Senior Lifestyle Editor, directing and producing feature videos and stories. Danielle also served as Snapchat Editor at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the brands daily Snapchat Discover channel. In 2016, she launched Cosmo Bites — which is now the official food and beverage vertical at Cosmopolitan. That same year, Danielle was named as a Rising Star in the digital media industry by FOLIO Magazine. Danielle got her start in digital media by launching the Her Campus chapter at Fairfield University in 2014, where she acted as Campus Correspondent for 2.5 years, before graduating with a degree in English and creative writing. She enjoys wine, food, and long walks through HomeGoods. Follow Danielle on Instagram!