The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


‘Perfect image’ comes at a price

 Perfect image comes at a price
Photo by Austin Kilgore, The Daily Campus
‘Perfect image’ comes at a price

‘Perfect image’ comes at a price (Photo by Austin Kilgore, The Daily Campus)

In a city known for having some of the most beautiful women in America, the pressures young college students face to have the perfect body image are extreme.

The Extreme Measures Campaign is a body image campaign led by young women on college campuses that addresses the extreme pressures women face to look perfect.

The tours two featured speakers Long Long, a cosmetic surgery disaster survivor, and Aleks Wierzchowski, an eating disorder survivor, spoke Wednesday to the SMU campus about how they almost died to look good.

“I thought it was perfectly safe. I had a way to do it, and I thought it would be fun. I never thought that implants could be dangerous or harmful to my health,” said Kasey Long.

Long was 19 years old when she made the decision to get saline breast implants. Soon after being implanted, she was diagnosed with many illnesses that should not have affected someone as young and healthy as she was.

Immediately after being implanted in July 2001, she began having weird, shooting pains in her arms. She also suffered from other symptoms including chronic fatigue, hair loss, night sweats, muscle tremors, cold hands and feet, weight gain, dizziness, and memory disturbances.

“I felt like a big truck had hit me, like it had just run over my chest,” Long said.

She saw one doctor after the next and none of them knew why she was so sick, even though many of the symptoms she had were typical complications reported by many women with breast implants. Eventually, Long found doctors who believed that her saline breast implants could be causing symptoms like those she was experiencing.

Long had her implants removed in 2003, two years later, by a Dallas plastic surgeon that specializes in removing implants. After she had her implants removed, she felt better but is no way healed. She still feels exhausted most of the day, she’s unable to exercise as much as she used to, and little things she used to take for granted, like getting out of bed, now require a plan.

“I don’t think women and girls are getting all of the information they need when making the decision to get breast implants. I certainly didn’t know all of the risks when I decided to get them. And I am determined to tell everyone what I desperately needed to know two years ago: saline breast implants can be dangerous to your health,” Long said.

Wierzchowski, a former SMU student, was born in Poland and came to the U.S. in 1985. Throughout her life she was performance driven and very political, always searching for recognition from family and friends.

During her first struggle with anorexia, Wierzchowski felt compelled to focus on denying herself food in order to keep from focusing on outside sources of stress and pain. She constantly felt as if she was spiraling into a hole of depression with no way out.

“I was exhausted, tired, hungry, restless, and desperate. That’s where I was emotionally,” Wierzchowski said.

After losing 30 pounds in high school, Wierzchowski fell apart inside. She became obsessed with her weight and just wanted to be thinner. She thought the lower her weight dropped the better she would feel.

When Wierzchowski came to SMU her friends thought she had overcome her struggle with anorexia. Instead of being worried about her weight she became focused on her academics. She studied five days a week and was on the Dean’s List every semester. She put on enough weight to look healthy but emotionally she was still falling apart.

The following summer Wierzchowski went on what started out as a diet but wound up spiraling out of control into another struggle with anorexia. She never thought she would fall back into her obsession but once again she became fixated on her weight.

A friend of Wierzchowski said, “I saw you on campus today and from the back you looked like an 8-year-old girl.”

At that point Wierzchowski realized that she needed help and it became evident that she couldn’t go on living her life this way.

“I sat on Daniel and thought to myself I don’t want to live anymore but I don’t want to take my life,” Wierzchowski said.

Wierzchowski called the health center and took the steps to turn her life around. She dragged herself to meetings and realized she had to be honest with people about her problem.

“It was six to seven months before anyone saw a change physically but it didn’t matter what the number on the scale said but more importantly it was about who I thought I was,” Wierzchowski said.

Since overcoming her struggle with anorexia, Wierzchowski has received a bachelor’s degree in business from SMU and is currently working towards a master’s in counseling from the University of North Texas to assist females who suffer with eating disorders and body image issues.

The Extreme Measures campaign hopes to increase awareness of the fact that many young women struggle with their feelings about their bodies, and to present healthy alternatives to eating disorders and risky cosmetic surgery.

“I wish all of SMU could have heard Long and Wierzchowski. Body image is a huge deal not just on the SMU campus with college students but elementary- and middle-school-aged students as well. I’m extremely religious based and I believe that if you don’t except you’re body then you’re slapping god in the face for it,” senior Jackie Neiderstadt said.

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