Eating Disorders Essay

2818 words - 11 pages

Eating Disorders

     A vast amount of research has been done on the subject of eating
disorders and their causes. Many eating disorders have been proven to emerge
during adolescence and often serve as the foundations to more serious
problems like anorexia and bulimia. This essay will explore the development of
eating disorders in adolescent girls. It will show that these disorders are closely
connected to the biological and psychosocial changes that occur during the
adolescent period.

     Many teen girls suffer with anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder in which
girls use starvation diets to try to lose weight. They starve themselves down to
skeletal thinness yet still think that they are overweight. Bulimia, meanwhile, is a
disorder in which young women binge on food and then force themselves to
vomit. They also often use laxatives to get food out of their system. All of these
young women who suffer from this problem are considered to suffer from a
psychiatric disorder. While the causes are debatable, one thing that is clear is
that these young women have a distorted body image. (Wolf, pp.214-216)

     What is extremely alarming is that the current thin ideal for women in
Western society, which is unattainable for all but a very small percentage of the
population, is compounding this problem. It is a very serious issue when
someone's body shape is determined by genetic disposition and yet they try to
alter it to fit some kind of imaginary ideal of how a person should look.

     Thus, one of the most serious problems is that female nature is not what
society says it should be. Some researchers theorize that anorexia is a young
woman's way of canceling puberty. Since they lack body fat, anorexics don't get
their periods and often lose their sexual characteristics such as public hair. They
remain, in other words, little girls. There is also the complex issue of women
feeling that by having an eating disorder they are finally in control of something
in their life. This may sound strange, but much research has shown that women
who have been abused or neglected in their childhoods develop these problems
of control. (Attie and Brooks-Gun, pp.70-71).

     Studies suggest that eating disorders often begin in early to
mid-adolescence. They are directly connected to pubertal maturation and the
increases in body fat that occurs during this phase. These biological changes
are associated with increased dieting and unhealthy behaviours in early
adolescence. This problem is aggravated by various problems, including
negative body image, which has a close association with weight, perfectionism
and depression. Family and socialization also play significant roles. It has been
found, for instance, that mothers with girls with eating disorders are often critical
of their daughters' weight and physical appearance. Families with adolescents
who have eating disorders are also often characterized by enmeshment,
...

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