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

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Sisters speak on self-image, eating disorders

Most lectures start with applause and an introduction of an accomplished speaker. However, “Your Body, Your Temple, How far is too far?” began with a PSA of swirling images, commercials, and the statement “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does.”

Sisters Cheryl Picard and Kristin McAlexander, opened up to students about self-image, addiction and eating disorders in McCord Auditorium Thursday.

Sparked by sexual abuse and unhealthy body images, the sisters were set out on independent yet equally destructive paths.

Picard, the younger of the two, began experimenting with drugs in high school after a broken ankle took her off the Varsity soccer team for a season.

“I graduated a full blown drug addict,” Picard recalled. After dropping out from Austin Community College and working in the restaurant industry, she said, “One day I just decided, I can have the best of both worlds. I can eat all the food I want and just throw it up.”

From that decision until an intervention with her family, Picard experienced drastic weight loss through bulimia, a binge and purge type of disordered eating. By the time that she arrived at her second treatment center in Utah, Picard was forcing herself to vomit six to eight times a day.

During this time her sister, McAlexander was facing a different battle with similar roots. While at Texas A&M McAlexander stopped participating in sports and started dealing with depression.

Despite a new interest in strength and personal training, she said “freshman year of college was probably the worst year of my life.”

She acknowledged that spending five to six hours in the gym each day was about more than being healthy, it made her addicted to exercising. After college she experienced flashbacks of her sexual abuse and commented that “the abuse affected how I saw my body and how I saw myself.”

Two treatment centers, long term therapy and attendance at groups like Alcoholics and Overeaters Anonymous later the sisters were able to bring their lives and body back to a healthy point.

They spoke to students about how to shift sometimes harsh self-judgment by focusing on good qualities and making the point that “you are not what you look like. You are not what you do.”

Anthropology major, Nancy Fuentes said, “I definitely liked that it was a conversation between the sisters and down to earth…though I wish I had gotten to hear a little more about the family as a whole.”

Kelyn Rola who is currently on the SMU Wellness staff commented on the relevance of the lecture. “There’s a lot of emphasis placed on image. More so at SMU than any other school I’ve been in. People struggling need to know they aren’t alone.”

Students can continue this conversation with peers and professional advice at SMU’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS) can be found in the Health Center or contacted at 214-768-2277.

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