EatOne of the most prevalent disorders amongst the youth of this era is eating disorders. While some overlook it and dont think it is a problem eating disorders should be given serious consideration. This is because the psychological ramification of eating disorders tends to have lasting effects over the course of the adolescents life.
An eating disorder is any of various psychological disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, which involves insufficient or excessive food intake. They are a silent epidemic and a exceedingly negative response to a misinterpretation of ones role in the world. Adolescents with eating disorders are usually convinced theyre ugly, worthless, and untalented. While some overlook it and dont think it is a problem it should be given serious consideration because the psychological ramifications of such a disorder has lasting effects over the course of the adolescents life. While eating disorders are a serious problem there are two distinct forms of eating disorders. One is anorexia and the other is bulimia.
Anorexia nervosa is characterized by self-starvation to avoid obesity. This is also known as the “starvation sickness” or the “dieters disease”. Statistics show that 95% of all anorexics are women found primarily in upper-middle class homes ranging from ages 12 to 18. (Maloney, 81). A person dealing with this sort of disorder is usually, striving for perfection has low self-esteem, and sometimes feels they dont deserve to eat.
Anorexia usually starts when they or someone else feels that the anorexic needs to lose some weight. They feel good when they start losing the weight because they feel they have reached and made progress on their goal. Unfortunately, this causes physical damage and sometimes-even death. Statistics have estimated about 10% will eventually die. (Patterson, 31). Although as an adolescent most go on a diet and give it up in about a week or two, anorexics dont. If one is suffering from this they have signs and symptoms such as: noticeable weight loss, excessive exercising, odd eating habits, feeling cold, dressing in baggy clothes, irregular menstruation, a frequent feeling of insecurity, loneliness, inadequacy, and helplessness.
There is no one single reason for anorexia, or how it goes unnoticed, but there are some explanations. One is that the person is not satisfied with the shape or size of their body. Family stress along with stress within themselves, such as a break-up, first time having sexual intercourse, an unwanted pregnancy, and a separation from parents, can be others. Also, feeling that the only thing they can control in their lives is the food that they eat especially if they have very controlling parents, or boyfriends. Finally, models, teen idols, and movie stars are role models for most teenagers, and the popular look is thin or the most recent description is called the lollypop look. This is a major part of it because adolescents tend to compare themselves to these role models and are taught that sexy is thin and this is the way to be noticed. The major source of this is through television, movies and magazines.
Bulimia, on the other hand, is characterized by massive food binges followed by self-induced vomiting or use of diuretics and laxatives to avoid weight gain. The word bulimia comes from the two Greek words, bous meaning cow and limos meaning hunger. Unlike anorexics, bulimics come from all economic levels, develop this disorder between 15 and 24 years of age, and are more likely to seek help because they realize they have a problem. Most people dealing with this disorder are attractive, successful women with no apparent weight problem.
Bulimia usually starts when the person is under tension, usually associated with a change or a disappointment. They turn to food for comfort and eventually gain weight. Finally they start dieting followed by binging and purging. They also feel that this behavior is a way for them to be in total control of their eating, weight, shape, and image.
Since bulimics are very secretive and the disorder usually has little relation to weight, it is harder to detect. Some warning signs are binges followed by severe diets, vomiting, laxatives, enemas, diuretics, or extreme exercise; constant fear of being fat; fear of not being able to stop eating; fear of eating without purging; irregular menstrual periods; and tooth decay (from the acid from the vomit). Bulimics are prone to turn to drugs and alcohol.
Many people with this disease suffer from stoke or heart attack at a very young age. They also will break bones easily because of the lack of calcium and other nutrients in their diet. Many talented musicians and actresses have died from this, and it is becoming more known and noticed today in society even though the pressures in Hollywood to be bone thin is still strong. When the body has consumed all of it’s fat content though constant deprivation of proteins, the body will start to devour it’s own flesh and muscle, ending in heart attacks and stroke. People with this eating disorder never fully recover but can learn that to control their disease better it is a matter of paying attention.
Eating disorders are becoming more average in teenage women and even men in the present years. The struggle to be perceived as perfection can be deadly. These people know there is something wrong but like all diseases it is incurable or untreatable without proper treatment and acknowledgement. People need to be educated about the disease and that the so-called ‘glamour’ looks arent so pretty after all in fact looks unhealthy. What happened to the healthy curvatious Marilyn Monroe look? Now there is the unsightly look of bones sticking out of skin. Young teens want to be like the famous ones. People that are looked at as role models are pressured but if they were to all rebel against this and think about what they stand for perhaps things would change to the way they used to be, or even better. This is a serious matter that people need to be educated about. The disease will prevail and many young women will suffer a great deal of their lives if it is left ignored.
Abraham, Suzanne, and Derek Llewellyn-Jones Eating Disorders: the facts. Oxford New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Claude-Pierre, Peggy The Secret Language of Eating Disorders. New York: Times Books 1997.
Maloney, Michael, and Rachel Kranz Straight talk about eating disorders. New York: Facts on File, 1991.
Patterson, Charles Eating Disorders. Austin tex: Raintree Steck-Vaughn, 1995.