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Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders and the media

Through out our history food has been a main staple of our survival why is it that food is now, in our society become somewhat the enemy for so many young women. If we need food to survive how it can be a bad thing to eat, why do so many women have such a hard time eating, one of the big reasons to this could be that our society its self has made young women, and girls think that eating makes you fat and they will be thin and look better if they do not eat.

To some people food is just something that is eaten during the day to keep them going; some people have no problem or issues with food, they can control their portions, what they eat at any given time, and they can say no if they are not hungry. But, there is a large portion of the US that does not have the same control or feelings about food. They feel that food is a controlling factor in their every day life and that it is sort of the forbidden fruit.

I personally can speak from experience, while growing up, and still to this day I have always had a self image that I have to be thin to look good. It was not something that was forced on me by my mother, nor did she or does she make me feel like I am anything but perfect the way I am. I believe that having an eating disorder, in some ways was, and still is my attempt to have some control over my life in a world that is sometimes out of control. Eating is one thing that I have complete control over, when I eat, the quantity, and what I chose to eat is all up to me. I did not realize how common eating disorders were in young women until the last few years, and I have seen one show after another on television about the statistics of eating disorders in today's society. Statistics shows that one percent out of women or girls between the ages of twelve and twenty five years of age suffer from some sort of eating disorder. Even though that may not sound like a lot but if you think of it in terms of numbers, that is over 260,000 women and girls who suffer from this disease, that is a large number (Paludi 156). This number does not include men, or boys' only women and girls are in these calculations.

There are a few different categories of eating disorders, one being anorexia nervosa, the other being bulimia. Anorexia nervosa is more of a starvation disorder. The signs of this disorder are, (1) self induced, severe weight loss; (2) amenorrhea, (not menstruating); and (3) a severe fear of losing control, over eating and becoming fat. In anorexia nervosa sufferers you may also see an increase of lanugos hair since the body is trying to keep its self warm in spite of the low weight (Paludi 156). This aspect of an eating disorder is more visible since you will see a remarkable weight loss and the person will most likely just keep getting thinner and thinner, they could die from this. In fact fifteen percent of anorexia nervosa sufferers die from this disorder (Paludi 156).

With bulimia, you may not see as many visible signs of this side of the disorder. In bulimia sufferers a person will binge and purge; meaning they will over indulge in a large calorie amount of food and then either induce vomiting or ingest laxatives to rid them selves of the food. This is sometimes harder to spot, since bulimics will, or can be of normal weight possible a little underweight but not drastically. Bulimics will usually hide their binge and purge episodes also making it harder for others to know they are suffering. The big difference between anorexics and bulimics is that a bulimics weight will fluctuate between weight gain, and loss. An anorexic will lose weight to an extreme degree (Paludi 157).

Society has to have some blame for this disease, how could there be such a large number of women, and girls with this disease with no blame on their surroundings, or what they view in front of them everywhere they look. If we are a product of our environment, and that environment shows women of all ages being beautiful when thin and model looking; then how is a woman supposed to not feel that this is the ideal of what a woman is, and should be.

In an attempt to see how the media influenced young girls a test was done in schools with girls in grades of fifth through twelfth, on a total of 548 young women. This assessment was conducted on a working class suburb area in the northeastern area of the US. In this survey they used a questionnaire about body weight, dissatisfaction of body weight, media influence as far as weight, and also exposure to fashion magazines as well as a few others. In this survey it was found that the pictures in magazines have a great impact on young girls' perception of what their bodies should look like. Approximately 69% of them reported that the pictures influence the way they want their body to look, 47% wanted to lose weight because of the magazine pictures (Field). This is a big number of young girls that view themselves by our society, and they images they see around them. These are ideals these young girls are getting from total strangers on what they should look like, or how their bodies should be. Again this was a study done on young girls, this is not even to include the number of young men that could and are also affected by this disease and our society.

When looking at the big picture we are portraying to young people growing up today it is one of the nature that you have to be thin. Thin is pushed in so many non verbal ways that it makes a severe impact on all young people, but mostly women. If you look at the past compared to the present you will see



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