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Disordered - eating disorders.

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Nicole Gendelman December 14, 2003 Disordered Open up a popular magazine. Watch a major motion picture. Flip to your favorite TV show. Undoubtedly you will be bombarded with depictions of "perfect" human bodies. Models whose thighs have diameters equal to that of their wrists, actors with abdomens that one could literally do laundry on, and celebrities whose exposed, impossibly flat midriffs only add to the magnificence of their designer gowns. In recent years, media such as this has come under scrutiny as being at the root of the epidemic of the eating disorder. Adolescent girls and sometimes boys, and although less common, adults, see these images as beautiful and turn to desperate and unhealthy measures of dieting in effort to replicate them, they say. It is true that the icons of our media present us with extremely high standards of beauty and very rarely represent what the average American truly looks like and, more specifically, weighs. However, since most Americans in their teens and twenties are both exposed to the media and experience natural insecurities about their looks, wouldn't it make sense that more than 6% of them would develop eating disorders according to this model? Simply digging beneath the stereotypical and often glamorized view of what an eating disorder actually is proves that deeper motives and issues are at hand. ...read more.


Emotional, physical, and sexual abuse are the most clear-cut and easily recognizable family issues that lead to unhealthy psychological pathology. However, the remaining 70% of ED sufferers that did not experience outright abuse experienced a different, less detectable, less deliberate kind of damage to their self-esteem. In fact, in a recent poll of teenage and young adult eating disordered women, 47% described their family life growing up as "normal, healthy, and usually happy". The psychological state one develops prior to an eating disorder can be a manifestation of unhealthy parenting strategies that would go undetected to many of us (Polivy). Imagine a typical American family sitting around the dinner table. Since these days, the typical American family is divorced; there is a mother and her two children. The 6-year-old girl announces proudly to her mother that she climbed to the top of the jungle gym by herself for the first time today at recess, but her mother, immersed in the front page of the newspaper, answers with a preoccupied "that's nice, honey". Reading an article about Miss America's current charity work, the mother haphazardly comments out loud on how important it is to be beautiful to make it somewhere in the world. Putting down the newspaper, the mother glances at her younger daughter's plate and threatens no dessert if her vegetables are not finished. "I finished mine, Mommy," boasts the older 8-year-old sister. ...read more.


A common reaction in specifically females to criticism is the belief that everything would get better and everyone would love them if they could just lose weight. More directly, these negative features in the family dynamic lead to depression and anxiety problems during adolescence. It is depression and anxiety though, that often lead patients to try to drastically control their weight in an attempt to gain control over their lives in general (ANRED). In any case, it is poor self-esteem, problems with identity, and lack of control that are central characteristics in ED sufferers, and these are all features whose directions are determined mainly during childhood. As we have seen, the underlying contributions to these problems are not always as explicit as we may think. It is essential that parenting not be overlooked when we explore why certain people develop eating disorders. Although it is difficult to determine from studies whether family dysfunction contributes to EDs, EDs contribute to family dysfunction, or some common factor contributes to both, the two conditions seem to almost always exist mutually, and so it is worthwhile to explore the possible negative effects family influences can have. The attempt of individuals to resolve problems of their life by investing emotionally and behaviorally in the pursuit of slimness or the abuse of food is an unfortunate and deadly trend that must be addressed, but perhaps more beneficial will be to explore where these problems originate in the first place. ...read more.

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