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A Little This and a Little That' Why She's Skinny and Why She's' Not.
In ages eleven through seventeen, eating disorders claim more than 150,000 lives per year (Beauregard). Sue-Ellen Beauregard isn't the only one who's stated that. Researchers everywhere are discovering the horrifying reality: Eating disorders aren't a joke. In the past, it's been thought that eating disorders were only found Caucasian teenagers, and that many women were 'too old to have them.' That isn't true at all. Yes, eating disorders are most commonly found in young, white girls usually in the middle to upper class (Kinsora). However, eating disorders can occur in African Americans, Asians, Europeans, and all other ethnicities.
Nearly ten million women in the United States have eating disorders (Brody). Ten million! Anorexia, an eating disorder which consists of self-starvation, kills up to ten percent of its victims and leads to heart and kidney failure, osteoporosis, and hair loss. Bulimia, an eating disorder which consists of purging, leads to heart failure, esophagus damage, and tooth decay. Binge-eating, an eating disorder which consists of compulsive eating to provide comfort, leads to heart and gallbladder diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure (Adams). Despite all of these consequences and easily found facts, most of America remains in the dark.
The few Americans who remain correct about this matter understand that eating disorders are a huge deal that needs to be dealt with. When these Americans see girls, boys, women and men with eating disorders, they think to themselves, 'These poor people. They are lost and need help.' These people understand that eating disorders are a growing issue and believe doctors and the public should put more money and time into researching them. 'Why aren't their family or friends helping?' the open-minded will wonder when they discover that someone they know has an eating disorder. 'They must have such a distorted vision of the world.' These people know that eating disorders are mental disorders. They understand they are difficult to cure. They know that victims are lost, confused, and very sad inside.
Unfortunately, those Americans are in the minority. Some Americans believe that eating disorders aren't a big deal. When they see a victim to anorexia or bulimia, they lamely wonder, 'Why don't they just, like, eat? It's not that hard.' These people don't see the bigger picture of eating disorders: Organ failure, osteoporosis, and early deaths. If they discover that a friend has an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, they will tell them, 'I can eat, so why can't you? You look like you're dying!' The ignorant believe eating disorders are a mind-set, and have nothing to do with the chemical reactions in the brain. They also may think that teenage girls with anorexia or bulimia are vain, because they're so thin and 'happy.'
In a survey of 4,639 girls and boys with an average age of sixteen by the National Eating Disorders Screening Program, almost twelve percent of girls and three percent of boys admitted to vomiting in the past three month to control their weight. In the same survey, seven percent of girls and six percent of boys reported binging once a week or more. Although these results seem a tad high, they don't stand alone. In another survey by Lea Anneli Hautala et. Al (2008), and based on data from 1036 students: twenty-four percent of girls and sixteen percent of boys self-reported eating disorder symptoms. Does anyone see a problem with those statistics? If your answer is correct, then there is a problem.
Many people are suffering from eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Binge eating is more obvious in Obese-America. Anorexia and bulimia are branching off of binge eating. People are becoming scared of getting fat like so much of America. Anorexia and bulimia aren't caused by the 'media,' they're caused by the obese population. People are interpreting the media as saying to be skinny and that being skinny equals happiness. People aren't getting what it's really saying: 'You will be thinner when you're happier, not happier when you're thinner.' When happy, people won't rely on food for pleasure. When people eat less food, they will naturally grow to their healthy weight. However, what needs to be said to America is: 'Get yourselves together. Do the math: five cheese burgers in one day equals obesity! If you can manage to be happy, you'll gradually grow to your body's healthiest weight. Once it's possible to grow out of your depressive hole, you will understand how to be healthy. Binging away problems doesn't help one bit.' In fact, taking away your child's baby bottle before a year old will help to prevent them from becoming too reliant on food for comfort. Therefore, you'll be stopping an eating disorder before it can start (Williams).
Happiness is a big problem with the general population. People are slowly growing depressed either due to stubbornness, lack of education, clinical problems, or laziness. There is no real reason why people can't be happy, other than those. If someone says they can't be happy, because they can't afford it, then they are lazy. There is an answer to everything. As Victoria Stocki-Kim would say, 'Find the problem and the solution, and put them together!'
All eating disorders are, of course, mainly caused by chemical reactions firing incorrectly in the brain. The evidence is plain. However, as said by Dr. Kinsora (P.H.D.), anyone can push herself or himself into an eating disorder. By repeatedly thinking contributing thoughts to eating disorders, you can literally make yourself have an eating disorder. Although once it starts, there is almost no stopping it. The reason why this is effective, is that these thoughts push people into eating disorders whereas they may have been able to resist.
A wonderful example of the mental science of anorexia/bulimia victims is an article from something-fishy.org. It was submitted by Lisa Ann and is a letter she wanted to send to her psychologist cousin. She never had the courage to send it. One part reads, 'Will anyone ever realize that by my telling them things that I am really on my knees at their feet, begging for them, anyone to HELP ME? I am so afraid I'm going to die. But at the same time, I catch myself smiling at the thought of my death. I feel like I'm trapped in a living hell. I want out; I want to be normal again. I'm tired of my hair falling out, of my stomach aching, of living with my head stuck in a toilet. How disgusting!'
It's often wondered by non-victims how victims could possible just go without eating. It seems so impossible, right? Actually, many victims don't actually feel the pain of not eating, as it's been described. Food is so disgusting to them, that they don't think twice about it. Imagine your least favorite food. Perhaps it's a vegetable. Now imagine that it is the only food in the entire world' Would you eat it?
Why don't they want to get better, you ask? Well, they do! Many of them do want to recover, but don't know how to or are afraid. In another article from something-fishy.org, an anonymous user wrote to her anorexia, 'I have the power NOW and it will remain that way' I will decide WHO I hang out with, WHAT I eat, WHERE I go, WHEN I eat, and WHY I choose to eat and be happy' I'm sick of you hurting me''
In the book Next to Nothing by Carrie Arnold, the author discusses her eating disorder. She had a combination of anorexia and bulimia, like a lot of victims do. She was told from her doctor that her eating disorder 'could have been averted with proper diagnoses and early treatment of OCD,' (Arnold 52). The same chemical reactions occur in the brain with victims of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and victims of eating disorders (Kinsora).
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia usually occur in young, Caucasian teenagers in middle to upper class families (Kinsora). They are usually high-achievers, and generally happy people. Some believe that eating disorders come from these types of women as an attempt for them to gain a kind of control in their lives (Kinsora).
Gymnastics, figure skating, ballet, bodybuilding, rock climbing, and distance running often 'foster eating disorders,' (Despres 'Female Athletes Are at Risk of Eating Disorders'). This also includes all sports in which being lighter or slimmer is better and makes the activity easier.
While many would argue that the American culture is too concerned with beauty and slimness, Naomi Wolf disagrees. She believes that 'a culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about beauty.' It is 'an obsession about female obedience.'
What ever the underlying reason for and what ever the prevalent opinion on eating disorders may be, a change needs to occur. America must grasp the cause and effect of eating disorders. People are dying. Children are dying.
Eating disorders are the leading cause of death from mental illness (Kinsora). They kill huge amounts of people, children included, each year. Some studies state that up to ten million women in the U.S. are victims to eating disorders (Brody). Eating disorders have been found to sprout from specific sports like gymnastics, figure skating, and ballet (Despres). The risk for anorexia and bulimia is going up in the population. People are getting scared of becoming obese like so much of America.
What we can do now is to put more time and research into eating disorders. We must inform the ignorant and help the affected. America needs to take eating disorders more seriously. We need everyone to look for signs of eating disorders and stop them before they start. If nothing is done about this, we will have an increase in the eating disorder population. Soon, there will be skeleton-ladies and balloon-ladies, stick-men and slug-men. Can you imagine how strange it would be to see a five foot ten inch girl that weighs eighty pounds next to a four foot one girl that weighs three hundred pounds? Nothing could be more disgusting!
So get off your butt and get active in the cause! After all, would you rather be too fat' or too skinny?
Arnold, Carrue. Next to Nothing. Oxford UP, 2007.
Brunk, Doug. "Eating Disorders are Hurting High School Girls." Editorial. 2008.
Healy, Alison, ed. "38% Increase in Calls to Eating Disorder Helpline." Editorial. 2009.
Kinsora, Dr. Thomas F. Personal interview. 20 Feb. 2009.
PR Newswire, ed. "Going Back to School Can Trigger Eating Disorders." Editorial.