Eating Disorders

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Imagine a thirteen-year-old girl who weighs 60 pounds because she is starving herself. Every time she looks in the mirror, she sees herself as fat. Picture her parents watching their daughter literally disintegrating into thin air. This is the life of a family dealing with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are a major problem with the young people of today's society. While anorexia and bulimia are sociological problems plaguing the world's youth, there are also other eating disorders. This "fat phobia", or fear of being over-weight, disturbs people to the point where they are in a way, committing suicide. Eating disorders have been termed the disease of the 1980's. An eating disorder is defined as "a dangerous and intense striving to become thin (Macionis 350). Even though it has been found that "95% of people who suffer anorexia or bulimia are woman, mostly from white, relatively affluent families" (Macionis 350), "the pre-occupation and obsession with food are not limited to women" (Meadow 24). Although some men also deal with eating disorders, most research has been done on women. In 1985, 95% of women felt they were overweight, while only 25% were actually considered medically overweight (Marshall 124). By the age of thirteen approximately 53% of females are unhappy with their bodies, and by the age of eighteen approximately 78% are unhappy (Marshall 124). Are culture could be seen as a narcissist society. Narcissism is a preoccupation with one's self, a concern with how one appears to others, and with living up to an image (Meadow 127). It seems that appearance is an important factor in our everyday life. According to Michael Levine, who in 1987 said, "Our culture transmits powerful messages that, just as men can not be too rich, women can not be too thin" (Macionis 350). While all women want to look as perfect as "Barbie", for some it just isn't possible. For women, being slender is almost synonymous with being successful (Macionis 350). It is also thought that 40% of the adult US population is significantly overweight (Meadow 24). Some experts feel that eating disorders are reaching epidemic proportions and estimate the national rate to be as high as 12% of women (Meadow 24). In fact, according to the Phoenix Gazette on November 7, 1985, "... ... middle of paper ... ...with an eating disorder. If you suspect that your child or anyone you know has an eating disorder you should never: tell them their crazy, blame them, gossip about them, follow them around to check their eating or purging behavior. You should also never ignore them, reject them, tell them to quit the ridiculous behavior, or feel you need to solve their problems (teenhope.com 3). Some things you should do are to listen with understanding, appreciate their openness and the risk they took to tell you, support them and be available. Two of the most important things you should do are to always give her hope, and continuously, but gently suggest counseling. Roughly two million young women suffer from the symptoms of anorexia nervosa or bulimia (Meadow 127). Eating disorders are caused by a striving to "look good". This need to "look good" is so bad that in the mid 1980's 477,000 esthetic surgeries were done, that was up 61% from 1981 (Marshall 127). Although not all is known about eating disorders, we must keep studying them, and the effect society has on causing these problems, so we can someday be able to control and prevent these diseases.

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