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Leslie Goldman ’98

Leslie Goldman has spent years in the locker room. Her self-help memoir, Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image and Re-imagining the Perfect Body (Da Capo, 2007), is a culmination of interviews with hundreds of women, interspersed with personal anecdotes, about body image issues.

March 01, 2008

2008 Forward under 40 Award Honoree

UW Major: Nutritional sciences
Age: 31 | Chicago, Illinois
Women's health writer

Leslie Goldman has spent years in the locker room. Her self-help memoir, Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image and Re-imagining the Perfect Body (Da Capo, 2007), is a culmination of interviews with hundreds of women, interspersed with personal anecdotes, about body image issues.

Goldman developed an eating disorder during her freshman year at UW-Madison. After recovering a year later with support from doctors from University Health Services, she went on to help many other young women on campus struggling from this problem, and ultimately, found her calling in writing about health, nutrition and fitness.

Locker Room Diaries has attracted media attention, including an appearance on The Today Show and a nod in People magazine. A 13-city college tour to raise awareness of body image issues brought Leslie back to her alma mater. In April 2007, Goldman spoke at the Memorial Union Theater to a 1,000-plus audience that included Greek women, student-athletes and her former academic adviser, Dr. N.J. Benevenga, and his wife and daughter. It was wonderfully touching to look out and see him supporting me as I spoke to this new generation of UW students, she says.

With a masters degree in public health and a five-year foundation writing for the American Medical Association, Goldman now contributes to national magazines such as Health, Self, Runners World, Women's Health and Redbook, as well as the Chicago Tribune and several online forums devoted to women's health and self-esteem.

A proud Delta Gamma, Goldman values the strong friendships and vital support system she developed at UW-Madison. She met her husband, Dan Alter, on her first day on campus after an eight-year friendship, they tied the knot with five Badger bridesmaids and a round of Varsity on the dance floor.

In her own words

My four years at UW-Madison have enriched and positively impacted my life in so many ways, this question is almost impossible to answer. I could write a book! And, since I did write a book last year on women's body image perhaps Ill start there, by explaining how my college education helped me attain that lifelong goal.

I was a nutritional sciences major, with a plan to enter medicine. I was an A student, but during my sophomore year, I answered an ad for the Badger Herald looking for writers, and fell in love with journalism. My beats included, among others, health, and I realized I could combine my passion for medicine, nutrition and fitness with writing to help educate fellow students. During a senior year journalism workshop, I met Professor Al Gunther, who truly changed the trajectory of my career. Al instilled in me the belief that I had the talent to become a professional writer, which is what I am today. After five years of writing for the American Medical Association, I now contribute regularly to national magazines such as Health, Self, Runners World, Women's Health, Redbook, Shape, Fitness, as well as the Chicago Tribune as a full-time freelance writer.

My bachelor of science in nutritional sciences has always proved a draw for my editors, as it shows I have a solid background from which to draw. I also must mention that breaking into the magazine industry can be a challenge there are thousands of other journalists vying for your spot at every turn. You must be competitive, dedicated, and stand out above the rest. These are traits which lived within me but were brought out and finely honed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. When you're living on a campus with 40,000 other students, to be a leader you must find ways to stand out and shine. I did this through serving in numerous leadership positions in my sorority, Delta Gamma (where I was a finalist for Outstanding Greek Woman of the Year); as a Student Health Advocate at University Health Services for two years; serving on Homecoming Court my senior year, and more. I should also add that the opportunity to serve as a Student Health Advocate at UHS gave me a chance to help shape student health programs, interact with students and answer their questions and also advocate for their unique medical needs which is what I do now as a women's health writer: anticipate and answer the questions I know my readers want to ask in an accessible way.

Another experience at school which, on the surface will seem sad but ultimately proved to make me stronger: I developed an eating disorder my freshman year. After recovering a year later, with support from the doctors at UHS, I went on to help many other young women on campus struggling from this problem of epidemic proportions. I knew my struggle had a deeper purpose when I was offered a book deal by Perseus Books in 2005, to pen a self-help/memoir called Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image and Re-imagining the Perfect Body (Da Capo, 2007). My interviews with hundreds of women, interspersed with personal anecdotes, garnered coverage in numerous prestigious outlets including an appearance on the Today Show, People Magazine, and more. The experience truly came full circle when I kicked off a 13-city college tour, starting at Northwestern (and visiting schools such as UNC-Chapel Hill, FSU, SMU, UCLA and more) and culminating at my alma mater! I presented to an audience of more than 1,000 UW Greek women and athletes in April 2007. My sorority was there to take me in during the day and cheer me on at night in the Memorial Union Theater and, as a testament to the strong UW bonds that develop and last a lifetime, my academic advisor, Dr. N.J. Benevenga, attended with his wife and daughter. He was the only man in the audience (such a trooper!) and it was so wonderfully touching to look out and see him supporting me as I spoke to this new generation of UW students about body image and disordered eating. I felt like I was really putting my public health skills into play (I have a Masters degree in Public Health) and giving these young women a role model that they could relate to. After all, I'm not that far away from them in age!

I really could go on and on about the way UW has touched my life. I met my husband on my first day on campus we lived in the same dorm and were best friends for eight years until developing into something more and tying the knot. (My younger brother, who also attended UW-Madison, met his spouse there, too! Truly a UW family!) So many of my closest girlfriends my vital support system are from college. Five of my seven bridesmaids and both of our usherettes were Badgers, and we ended our wedding with a giant Varsity in the middle of the dance floor. Every stop of my college book tour, I would connect with Delta Gammas who would introduce me as Leslie Goldman, a fellow DG from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Boom instant connection! Madison is where I learned the importance of diversity, of independence; the power of standing up for yourself and speaking your mind; the need to follow your heart. These are lessons I carry with me each day and that have shaped me into the woman, writer, wife, runner, reader and volunteer I have become. And really, is there any greater feeling than meeting someone, no matter what his or her age, profession or background, and, upon coming to the conclusion you both attended UW-Madison, hearing that fantastic exclamation: Youre a Badger, too?! That's just the best.

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