In American society women are given the message starting from a very young age that in order to be successful and happy, they must be thin. Eating disorders are on the rise, it is not surprising given the value which society places on being thin. Television and magazine advertising that show the image of glamorous and thin models are everywhere. Thousands of teenage girls are starving themselves daily in an effort to attain what the fashion industry considers to be the “ideal” figure. An average female model weighs 23% less than the recommended weight for a woman. Maintaining a weight 20% below your expected body weight fits the criteria for the emotional eating disorder known as anorexia (Pirke & Ploog, 1984). According to medical weight standards, most models fit into the category of being anorexic (Garfinkle & Garner, 1990). Physicians now believe that anorexia has existed for at least 300 years (Pirke & Ploog, 1984). It was however only about one hundred years ago that Professor Ernest Lasegue of the University of Paris finally identified anorexia as an illness (Pirke & Ploog, 1984). The term "anorexia nervosa" literally means nervous lose of appetite. Most researchers and physicians agree that the number of
Psychologically, the anorexic suffers with isolation from others, mood swings, insomnia, hyperactivity, low self esteem, fatigue, depression, self-hatred, electrolyte imbalance and loss of sexual desire. A Personal Recovery Story: Starving for Attention. Miss Pearson explains this "I loved the power I felt in starving myself" (1998). The Anorexia Bulimia Nervosa Association (ABNA) and the National Association for Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) are major organizations in the fight against these disorders. These groups help in providing family counseling and psychotherapy. Anorexics feel as if they are heavier than the others around them, and believe the quickest way to lose weight is to simply stop eating. Ironically, starvation is a very inefficient way to lose weight. When a child (or any person) is told that they are fat, ugly or dumb often enough they begin to believe it. The disease develops slowly over a period of months to years during which the sufferer changes her eating patterns to a very restricted diet. A perfectionist desires excellence in all aspects of their life. In treating anorexia nervosa, it is extremely important to remember that immediate success does not guarantee a permanent cure. When they cannot achieve perfection in their endeavors, they "punish" themselves by restriction or starvation.
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