Eating Disorders

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, "Almost
one out of three women diet once a month, and
one in six considers herself a perpetual dieter"
24). It is considered that 54-86% of college
women binge eats (Eating and Sexuality 24). They
do this and still research shows that most college
aged women: 1) widely accept the idea that "guys
like thin girls", 2) think being thin is crucial to
physical attractiveness, and 3) believe that they are
not as thin as men would like them to be
(Macionis 350). While in fact most college women
want to be thinner then most college men say
women should be (Macionis 350). In the United
States alone, our society spends $33 billion on the
diet industry, $20 billion on cosmetics, and $300
billion on plastic surgery (Marshall 124). This just
proves the fetish Americans have with their looks.
Unfortunately being thin does play a role in our
society. According to Dr. John R. Marshall, it is a
fact that attractive defendants seem to receive
more positive courtroom judgements and a
company is more likely to hire a tall thin man then
a short pudgy man (Marshall 125). These factors
are just increasing the chance of eating disorders
throughout society.
The most common eating disorder being
experienced in today\'s youth is anorexia nervosa.
Anorexia is usually defined as "willful
starvation-deliberate and obsessive starvation in
the pursuit of thinness ( 1). This
"willful starvation" is seen as the only way to lose
weight. Anorexics who are close to their deaths
will show you the spots on their body where they
feel they need to lose weight (Thompson 1). An
estimated 10- 20% of anorexics will eventually die
from complications related to the disorder
(Thompson 1). Some signs and symptoms of
anorexia are: noticeable weight loss, becoming
withdrawn, excessive exercise, fatigue, always
being cold, muscle weakness, excuses for not
eating, guilt or shame about eating, mood swings,
irregular menstruation, evidence of vomiting,
laxative abuse, or diet pills, and the frequent
checking of body weight on a scale (Thompson
2). Some theorists believe that these disorders
may be caused by the mass media\'s presentation
of the ideal body. But according to the ABNFV
or the Anorexia and Bulimia Nervosa Foundation
of Victoria, "it is over simplification to blame the
mass media\'s presentation of the \'ideal\' shape;
though western society\'s increased emphasis on
the slim, fit body places pressure on many people"
( 2). So there is no conclusive
evidence on exactly what causes anorexia.
Another common eating disorder seen in society is
bulimia. Bulimia involves binge eating
accompanied by induced vomiting to inhibit weight
gain (Macionis