Dive speaker takes the stage

Pat Jarrett

Former beauty queen Stacey Kole spoke at the Student Center Ballroom last night about her struggle with an eating disorder and being a perfectionist. “I’m not your typical pageant airhead,” Kole said as she introduced herself. PAT JARRETT | DAILY KENT STA

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

“Eating disorders are not about empty stomachs but about empty hearts,” former beauty queen Stacey Kole told the crowd. “Our souls are starving.”

Last night The Dive partnered with the Alpha Xi Delta and Delta Gamma sororities to bring Stacey Kole, former Miss Arizona USA, to speak about eating disorders. About 220 people attended the event in the Student Center Ballroom.

Kole said her struggle with self-image stemmed from her goal to be perfect in every way.

She had an A average in school. She was taking college classes in high school and volunteered more than 700 hours in one year.

“That girl has it all,” was the quote Kole said she loved to hear. She said it boosted her self-esteem.

Because she was the best at everything, she started to look at areas where she wasn’t the best, Kole said. She looked at classmates in school and set a goal.

“There was a girl in my class who weighed 95 pounds. I thought that was a reasonable number to beat,” Kole said.

Kole said her lowest weight was “in the low 90s.”

Kole listed different warning signs of an eating disorder.

Obsessing about caloric intake, wearing bulky clothes and the appearance of dark circles around the eyes can be signs of anorexia. Bulimia can take less obvious forms, though. Kole said eroding teeth or raw knuckles from purging are things to look for.

After Kole looked at her watch she told the crowd she would be wrapping up soon. Only then did she mention how her faith helped her through her eating disorders.

“My faith in God is a really, really huge thing in my life,” Kole said in an interview. “It gives me hope and a reason to do it.”

The religious element of the show was the reason The Dive’s funding request was rejected during an Undergraduate Student Senate Allocations Committee meeting earlier this month. The university later overturned the USS decision.

Many who attended the event wore shirts with the Greek letters of their fraternity or sorority.

Kelli Braner, president of Alpha Xi Delta and junior education major, said dealing with eating disorders is crucial because it is such a transitional time for many college women.

“For 18 years of their lives they are used to a place and the people living there,” Braner said. “Then they move to a new place and have to get to know a whole new group of people.”

Amanda Haff, sophomore political science major and president of Delta Gamma, thought Kole’s final remark about living a full life had a double meaning.

“It not only means full of nutrition but also satisfaction in a full life,” Haff said.

Contact religion reporter Pat Jarrett at [email protected].