American Women: Fading Away

American society has a notion that woman must be super skinny. This notion
has caused a rise in eating disorders. The body images are related to the
different levels of self esteem. Poor body image is associated with depression.
Researchers have found that white women have the highest rate of anorexia and
bulimia. Most actresses and models are so skinny; these women are role models
for girls, so these girls want to be skinny. Young girls have a tendency to look
up to famous women as role models. Since women in America have a view that to be
beautiful one must be skeletal, there is a rise in eating disorders, like
anorexia and bulimia because women feel that they are never skinny enough.

Eating disorders are brought on by personality, family pressures, genetic
susceptibility, and culture. One’s negative body image causes that person to
possibly develop an eating disorder. “The term body image refers to the
affective component of body image or the feelings one has about one’s body.
Research on body esteem is important because low body esteem has been associated
with vulnerability to depression, anxiety, and low self esteem, which all
contribute to eating disorders” (Calhoun & Henriques, 357). The most
popular eating disorders are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is
more common than anorexia. It is characterized as cycles of bingeing and
purging. It usually begins when young women attempt restrictive diets. After
binges these women purge by vomiting or taking laxatives, diet pills, or drugs
to reduce fluids. Women may attempt severe dieting, which cycles back to
bingeing; otherwise the bulimic becomes anorexic. Eating binges average about
1,000 calories, but intake during a binge can be as high as 20,000 or as low as
100 calories. Bulimic people average about 14 episodes of binge- purging a week.
Bulimic people that do not progress to anorexia have a normal to high- normal
body weight, but it may fluctuate by more than 10 pounds because of the binge-
purge cycle. (Grow, 217).

Anorexia leads to a state of starvation and emaciation, losing at least 15%
to as much as 60% of their normal body weight. Half of these people, known as
anorexia restrictors, reduce weight by severe dieting, the other half, known as
anorexic bulimic, maintain starvation by purging. Although both types are
serious, the bulimic type, which imposes additional stress on an unnourished
body, is the more damaging. (Grow, 217).

It is estimated that 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders,
approximately 7 million women and 1 million men. Most of these cases begin
before 20 years of age. One study reported that two thirds of high school
students were on diets, although only 20% were actually overweight. 90% of
reported eating disorder cases are in women. Bulimia has increased at a greater
rate than anorexia over the past several years. Some experts claim this problem
is underestimated because many people with bulimia are able to conceal their
purging and do not become noticeably underweight. A report concluded that 80% of
female college students have binged. (Philbin, 23).

Researchers found that white women are more prone to eating disorders. White
women are more concerned about their bodies and eating habits. White women are
more likely to have more restrictive diets and negative body image. White women
are more likely to have a low self esteem, which adds to a low body image. This
may be because most models are white women and other white women want to be like
them. Also much of women’s clothing is made to fit slender women. The fashions
that are in style are usually low cut, short, tight and form fitting. Society
thinks that only slender women can look right in this kind of clothing.

Young girls in the Unites States are being trained by the media, their
families and peers to adopt a negative judgment of their bodies. “Some girls
may be especially accepting of implausible ideals about thinness and/or or may
have personal body- related experiences in early adolescence, including
idiosyncratic response to the developing body within and outside the family,
which leads to extreme body dissatisfaction and vulnerability to depression”(Rierdan
& Koff, 615). They devalue their bodies and believe they most always lose
more weight. They criticize themselves and lose their self esteem. Most young
girls begin worrying about their bodies when they hit puberty. At this time
young girls have an increase of body fat and they realize the culture’s ideal
of thinness. Since teenagers see that overweight teenagers are badgered, they
will do anything they can to never be overweight. A negative body image is
associated with