Meet Anna Chiodo-Ortiz

Brittany Willwerth, Sports Co-editor

For Anna Chiodo-Ortiz ’19, a member of the Bison cross country and track and field team, life has been a journey full of patience, tenacity, and a fair share of challenges. Faced with an intense battle against an eating disorder, Chiodo-Ortiz has and will continue to overcome adversity in her daily life.

Originally making the decision to share her story while in high school, Chiodo-Ortiz wrote a delicate piece in which she portrayed her struggle with mental illness, specifically anorexia and bulimia. In her writing she explained, “Now, although I may be ‘better,’ I can’t lie. I can’t say I haven’t wanted to throw up. I can’t say I’m not obsessed with the way my body looks. I can’t say I don’t have crying fits when I look fat in the mirror. They happen. But I know how to push through them now. I know how to be reasonable. I know how to be strong.”

It was at this point in Chiodo-Ortiz’s recovery that she realized the power of accepting help from the incredible support system surrounding her. Adding to this power was the role of social media, which served as an outlet to reach out to others, all the while keeping Chiodo-Ortiz accountable. Like many on this campus, her Instagram profile serves as a beautiful example of loving oneself, no matter the trials or tribulations we may be facing.

When considering the pervasive impact that social media has on our lives, Chiodo-Ortiz acknowledges the associated danger of inaccurate portrayals. She strives to combat this by keeping her posts raw and honest.

“When I began to fall back into the eating disorders trap at the end of my sophomore year in college, that’s when I opened up about my vulnerabilities over social media. I felt as though I couldn’t go posting pictures and talking about how happy and healthy I am, when in reality, I was struggling,” Chiodo-Ortiz said. “That’s a problem with social media – the false perceptions of how perfect someone else may be or how their life may look. When struggles are shared and realities are revealed, it can make someone feel more human. There isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for absolutely anything in life.”

Pairing these pressures with the role of competing at the Division I level, Chiodo-Ortiz admits that her experience has not gone without hiccups.

“It’s another aspect of my life that is competitive, high pressure, and filled with comparisons. I think it can be easy to lose sight of why you do your sport in the first place. You want to believe in yourself, not be focusing on your appearance,” Chiodo-Ortiz said.

When asked what advice she would giving to aspiring athletes, competing athletes, or simply students around campus, Chiodo-Ortiz preached self-acceptance.

“Love yourself, be confident, and work hard. Do whatever you’re passionate about. Life can be simple if you look at it that way. Find what works for you, and go with it. Try your hardest not to compare yourself for others. As Theodore Roosevelt put it, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy.’ Also, it is okay to not feel okay; know yourself and trust your instinct.”

For Chiodo-Ortiz, each and every day serves as an opportunity to continue her progress, consistently moving forward. Through sharing her story and motivating others, she hopes to slowly erase the stigmas associated with eating disorders.

“I want people to experience freedom with food and to experience self love. I want people to treat their body with respect. Dress it up, take it out, exercise, eat healthy foods, but also eat the donut when you want it,” Chiodo-Ortiz said. “For those struggling, there are methods and resources out there to help you. The key is to be patient with yourself. Recovery is not linear. It takes time, there will be set backs and bad days. But the point is to try. And fight. Fight so damn hard.”

Chiodo-Ortiz’s fight is one example of a larger cause that will continue to genuinely affect the Bison community, one positive thought at a time.

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