Risk Factors For Anorexia
Length: 1477 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)
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As of 1999, is still very concerned with eating disorders. She wrote a piece in The Stanford Daily about her concerns. She has also written various articles about different things dealing with women and their health Regina Casper first experienced anorexia nervosa while she was in medical school. She was playing the violin in an orchestra at the Department of Medicine to treat chronically ill patients with anorexia nervosa. She says that as the patients came down the staircase they looked ghostlike. Everyone had one thought “how bizarre.” Regina Casper uses many examples to prove her point on anorexia and eating disorders. She goes as far as using examples about fasting to rats eating “cafeteria” food. In this piece Casper uses many different examples and different areas of these disorders to make her point in informing us about these illnesses. Her thesis is very straight forward, it is her title of the piece. She used that to the best of her advantage, being that the first thing the reader sees is what the whole piece is about and it makes them interested and eager to read more. In this piece, she gets lost in her own words sometimes, but she always finds a way to make it back out with an amazing example to get back on track. In the first few paragraphs Regina Casper explains that there are three different types of eating disorders. She goes into detail about each one and all the symptoms for each. She uses statistics about females and males to help prove her point. On statistic was that ninety-five percent of people with anorexia nervosa are female while only fiver percent are male. She states that in a study on schoolchildren and teenagers, boys or males rarely want to lose weight.
The first reason that Regina states is the conditions germane to our society and culture that tempt people to eat more than they need.
During this reason she is very scattered with her examples. None of them really compliment each other. She uses many different examples for this reason. The first example used is that rats maintain their weight while eating Purina chow but when they eat “cafeteria” food they become obese. Then she compares fast-food chains in Japan changing eating habits to when earnings would barely feed a family such a long time ago. Casper also goes into a discussion about sugar and how in Europe Princess Maria would have one morsel of sugar added to her servants tea as a special treat. She says that she thinks that we should be reminded about famine due to crop failure. As recently as 1919, Russia suffered severe famine and received $60,000,000 in food aid from the United States. I feel that the reason Casper uses this example is to remind us that not everyone who does not eat does not necessarily have eating disorders. Regina states that “the abundance of food in contemporary society turns a genetic disposition toward excess body weight into a risk factor for bulimia nervosa.” People in today’s society have a harder time in controlling their temptations for “good” food, which in turn makes them gain weight. However, whenever someone has anorexia nervosa it is less of a problem.
The second reason which Regina states is that the gradual dissolution of the family as the social unit where meals are shared at expected times. She states that when children do not have a regular meal then they find their own ways of feeding themselves. She goes into a story about a girl who’s parents divorced and her mom quit cooking meals, she developed bulimia. It wasn’t until she met her boyfriend who’s family actually did have family meals did she eat in other peoples company.
The third reason that Regina gives is the rather obvious hazard of the extreme standards for feminine beauty conspicuously displayed by fashion models. A century ago women were looked to be pink and plump, as opposed to today when pale, slim, and lean looks are in. She states that anorexia nervosa is documented as far back as the twelfth century. She then goes onto explain what the meaning of bulimia is and when it was first documented. Casper starts to talk about different methods of anorexia which girls tend to do, like omitting meals or just not eating period. The omitting of meals increases hunger and the chance for overeating. She found that girls as young as the age twelve had thought about dieting. Regina talks about the different signs of anorexia, like a certain amount of weight loss. People with anorexia do not lose their appetites they just have the will not to eat when they are hungry.
After the fourth reason Casper goes into talking about religious fasting. Casper gives many different examples about fasting in different aspects of religious beliefs. One example she uses is that fasting could be used as an art of patience. As she goes on talking about all the different kinds of fasting, the reader loses track of what Casper’s argument was. I feel that she loses the reader with this input. She even says herself “let me digress, so she knows that she is going off in a totally different direction than what the rest of her piece in. She then slowly gets on track with her fourth reason. The fourth reason becomes apparent when one examines the lives of these saints, a risk factor that we have only recently begun to recognize, the contribution of the personality. With this reason she connects the fasting to this reason, but not in a very good way. She talks about how eating disorders are a pattern of sacrifice and conquest directed toward a higher purpose for the praise of God and toward eternal salvation. One good example that Casper uses during this reason was about St. Catherine of Siena. St. Catherine vowed to devote her life to the service of Christ, so she made a “contract” with God that he would not only save her but her entire family if she ate only the absolute necessary. Doing this “deed” to God she eventually died from chronic anorexia nervosa. After talking about the differences in anorexia and bulimia, she talks about women after they have recovered from anorexia. She states that those who have recovered fully from anorexia where found to differ in personality from their sisters. I am glad she touched on the subject of the after effects. By using these examples, it helps the reader truly understand the lifelong effects of these horrible sicknesses.
After the fourth reason she has different sub-points. One was that anorexia is used as a self-improvement technique among females. Then she goes into discussing the parents of those who have the sickness. The parents think of their children in two different ways. On one hand, the patients insist on not need anyone or anything. Yet, on the other hand, their pitiful appearance draws attention to the fact that their lives have gone terribly wrong. After this, Casper brings up poems that portrays the different personalities and temperaments of the people who have these disorders. They are two poems from patients who gave their permission for her to use in this piece. By using these poems in her piece it adds a real-life perspective on these patients and their individual struggles. Today’s culture plays a huge roll in eating disorders for males and females. Models and magazines all portray the “skinny” and “built” men and women.
When exposed to these false identities children, teenagers in particular, tend to strive to become exactly what they see. They see models as perfection and they find that acceptable and will do just about whatever is necessary to become exactly like them, including going to extremes such as eating disorders.
In this piece as a whole, Casper’s tone was very informative. She used examples to her advantage and she had great arguments. When she used some of her examples, they really had an impact on me personally. The examples were very well thought out, even though she did, at sometimes, lose herself in her own words. She strayed from some of her reasons, and she realized it so the got back on track. Overall I would say that Regina Casper did a great job on the “Risk Factors of Anorexia,” and did a great job of making us as the readers aware of all the different kinds, symptoms, and effects that eat disorders have.