Today one of my 13 year old students fainted in class. When I asked her what had happened, she told me she was dizzy because she hadn't eaten all day. I remembered I had heard her complain about being fat before (she's such a pretty, well proportioned girl!) so I took her outside for a chat.
I didn't have to ask anything, she just started to talk. Dad had finally moved out of the house last Saturday, after breaking up and getting back together with Mom several times this year. Two of her friends had told her she was getting chubby. She's insecure and she wants to be a model. "That's why I don't eat Miss, because if you don't eat you don't gain weight." She also told me she's thrown up after meal time twice, but that her mother found out and got mad with her.
We had a good talk for about half an hour in which I explained a few things about how the digestive system works. And about the importance of food when you're a growing teenager. The funny thing is that I just watched a documentary about eating disorders last night, so I was able to give her accurate information.
She gave me permission to talk to the counselor, as long as I didn't tell her home-room teacher or her parents. Well of course not. Counselor (who is also her health and science teacher) will look her up tomorrow for a chit-chat.
She said "but Miss, you're spending half the class time on me! Why would you do that?". I told her that I like it when my students know lots about music and are able to sing well, but that my first priority was that they were happy and healthy. At that she just said "thanks" and smiled.