Yale Student 'Force Fed' Herself After School Harassed Her for Being Too Thin

frances chan yale One college student is all over the health-o-sphere today, because the administrators at her college insisted that her naturally low weight meant she had an eating disorder. When 20-year-old Yale student Frances Chan began her career at the illustrious Ivy League school, she expected to get one heck of an education. She just didn't think it would be anything like this.

In an essay she wrote for HuffPo, Chan talks about how a visit to the health clinic to check out a suspicious lump in her breast led to the Yale team subjecting her to weekly weigh-ins and blood tests. She says that unless she managed to add weight to her 5'2", 90-pound frame, the school threatened to kick her to the curb. Chan posits that she was being unfairly targeted because of the school's health team subscribing solely to the guidelines of the hotly contested BMI chart.


Chan may be small for her height, but she contests that this is due to genetics and is not the end result of any disordered eating. She points to her own mother's small stature as further proof that she is healthy. But until she wrote this article, the school refused to hear her out.

It's tempting to be impressed with the hard bottom line the school was taking. Eating disorders are deadly. It's as simple as that. That Yale saw a student they believed to be at risk and took such drastic measures to help her is better than the alternative, surely.

But their blundering cannot be overlooked even in the face of their good intentions. Forcing a student who, other than not matching the numbers on a very flawed chart, presented as being healthy to undergo weekly weigh-ins that made her so anxious she began force feeding herself junk food is just insane. They missed a key component when it comes to providing treatment: They didn't listen to their patient. Using the BMI as a model is very much under debate, something every health care professional knows. They should have taken it less into account than they did their patient.

What Chan alleges Yale did also sets a dangerous precedent. If it's okay for a school to police the diet of the underweight, what's to stop them from forcing the overweight onto a restrictive diet and exercise regime regardless of their actual health? The school is to be applauded for proactively caring for the members of their community they deem to be at risk, but they deserve to be taken to task for their methodology.

Eating disorders of any kind don't just take a physical toll, they also take a mental one. Putting a student in a position where they feel unsafe and worried about their future won't help the problem if it exists. It will only make it worse.

Do you think the school was in the wrong or were they just trying to help?


Image via © Wavebreak Media Ltd/Veer/Corbis

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