Eating disorders seem to have become, in a way an accepted thing to do. Many
people who have this perceived notion of themselves being overweight go to extreme
lengths to be skinny, hence what they think will make them beautiful. Most people that
are affected by eating disorders are young girls who fall into peer pressure, or dictate
what they see on television, like supermodels and actors: "We've also trivialized them:
made them into nothing more acceptable standards of behaviour. Everyone wants to be
thin and pretty, after all" (Helwig 324). It is helpful to know what eating disorders are,
how they start and eating disorders as a trend.
There are 3 different ways that people use to keep their weight down. Anorexia is
deliberate starvation, bulimia is self induced vomiting, and obesity is overactive eating.
People who suffer from anorexia suppress their hunger and refuse to eat, because of their
desire to be thin, to the point where they become emaciated.
People who suffer from
anorexia also change their psychological way of thinking, they consider themselves
overweight, even though they might be skinny to the point that they are dangerously
underweight. Bulimia or binge eating is the consumption of large quantities of food over
a short period of time and often self induce vomiting, and abuse laxatives or diuretics
between binges in an attempt to keep their weight down. The mental process of bulimics
is different then anorexics. People who suffer from bulimia, recognize that they have a
problem, and are often very secretive about it. Obesity can be defined as excessive build
up of body fat, and people who eat erratically, combined with little to no body movement,
like limited exercise.
There are many ways in which eating disorders start, the first is biologically and
through learned behaviours, such as the good intention of family members to give
excessive amounts of food to children in order to grow.
In our culture, which has an abudance of food, children learn to increase
progressively the amount of food they eat, and often increase the quantity of
energy they ingest beyond that needed for growth, body functions, and the
demands for exercise. (Abraham, Jones 23)
However there comes the time when the child does not need as high of a nutriential
intake, and if the child is eating at the same rate, then there is a high likelyhood that
obesity will follow. The obesity then leads to the child's recongnition of her body
weight, which leads to weight control by using diets or other ways to keep her weight
down. The second is psychological, which includes the emotional and mental thought
process to the start of eating disorders. People, especially women, who feel lonely and
depressed often fill the void in their lives by eating, and the more they eat, the more
fulfilled they feel : "As she becomes increasingly obese she develops a need to stay
obese, and avoid the resurgence of her feeling of inadequacy" (Abraham, Jones 26). The
last explananation as to why eating disorders occur, is the social reason. The social
explanation involves the media, and what people are told by others. Pressures by what is
seen on tv, like the skinny models, yet the message that eating is good.
Eating disorders have become a major trend, you see images of skinny models
and actresses, which gives the message that skinny is sexy and normal.
Now it could be condoned. Now it could, in fact, become the basis for an
industry; could be incorporated neatly into consumer society. According to Jane
Fonda the solution to bulimia is to remain equally unhealthy thin by buying the
20-minute workout and becoming an obssesive fitness follower (at least for those
who can afford it). The diet clinic industry, the Nutrisystem package, the aerobics
boom. (Helwig 327).
The people who are affected the most by what they see on television, are young
impressionble adolescents, who feel that they have flawed waist, hips, and other body
parts in comparison to those of models and actors. As years pass the standard for beauty
have been dropping and dropping, such as Pamela Anderson who is 5'7" and weights 120
pounds. In contrast, a generation before Marilyn Monroe set the beauty standard at 5'5"
and weighed 135 pounds.
People with anorexia don't see that they are starving themselves to death. In
contrast people who suffer from bulimia know they have a problem, can't stop
themselves from inducing vomiting. Finally obesity is when people overeat and don't
burn the excess energy. Eating disorders are a death sentence to not just women, but men
as well. People are influenced to start one by what they see on television, the internet, by
family and in the media.
Helwig, Maggie. "Hunger." Canadian Content. 5th Ed. Nell Waldman and Sarah Norton. Scarborough: Nelson, 2003. 323-328
Agras, W.Stewart. Eating Disorders: Management of Obesity, Bulimia, and Anorexia Nervosa. Great Britain: A. Wheaton & Co. Ltd., Exeter, 1987.
Abraham, Suzanne, and Derek Llewellyn-Jones. Eating Disorders The Facts. Great Britain: The Chaucer Press Ltd., 1984
Media and Eating Disorders. Rader Programs. Retrieved 16/November/2004 .