Adolescent Anorexia Essay

Pages: 5 (1364 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Children

Adolescent Anorexia

Anorexia Nervosa is a psychological eating disorder that is characterized by a distorted body image and obsessive fear of gaining weight -- resulting in starving oneself or eating and then regurgitating food. The condition typically affects younger women, between 15 and 19 years old. Most anorexia sufferers are female, and the majority of cases go either undiagnosed or untreated until other medical issues intervene. In contemporary culture:

Over ae of adolescent girls feel negatively about their body

Almost 1/2 teenage girls know someone with an eating disorder

Almost 60% of girls want to lose weight

Girls are three times more likely to think they are too heavy

percent of young women worry "a lot" about how they look (Croll 536-7).

Anorexia sufferers typically experience weight loss about 15% below the level of normal body weight for their age group. People suffering from the disorder are typically quite thin, but convinced they are overweight. They will often refuse to eat, take massive doses of laxatives, or indulge in excessive exercise -- all from the fear of being perceived as fat. The disorder itself is thought to be more common among members of higher socioeconomic sectors, and even more so within groups that are involved in activities in which being thin is considered a positive attribute (dancing, theater, long-distance running, modeling, etc.). Health professionals have attributed some of the psychological pressures of becoming thin to the way in which the media portrays beauty, and certainly noticed an increase in anorexic cases within the last 2-3 decades.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Adolescent Anorexia Assignment

Certainly, it is quite possible that anorexia may have been a malady which certain psychological types were predisposed throughout history, but in the contemporary world, the 1983 death of pop star Karen Carpenter brought attention to the term, and even the propensity to label thin individuals as "anorexic." However, on a positive note, recognition of the disease beginning in the late 1980s cause a number of specialized clinics to open that focus specifically dealing with eating disorders. Still, it is tough to change certain eating behaviors while one's peers, and sometimes even parents or caregivers, are of similar mindsets to anorexia sufferers. As the "ideal body shape" becomes even more entrenched in advertising, most young women face similar psycho-social issues. The simple fact is that in contemporary society -- appearance matters. Even mega-stars consent to surgery, expensive treatments, and massive retouching in photo shoots simply to be "beautiful." However, this translates down into adolescents, particularly girls, that something is always lacking -- that they can never be perfect, that they can never be ideal, unless they spend x dollars on certain products to make themselves beautiful. Indeed, the idea of inadequate body image leads to psychological and social problems that now transcend race, making body-image one of the most critical "problems" faced by American youth (Croll 539).

Since the 1980s, hyper-slimness embodied the supposed "ideal" of feminine beauty. This ideal resulted in a number of women who constantly diet in order to keep up with their perception of the contemporary idea of a perfect body, and to wear the fashion produced for the ultra-thin. Glamour magazine, in fact, carried out a survey in 1983 of thousands of women between 18-25; over three-quarters believed they were fat, although less than a quarter were actually clinically obese. Interestingly, the higher the socio-economic profile, the more women believed they were overweight, and the more this subgroup defined themselves by media messages (Croll 539).

Anorexia is almost common enough to call it an epidemic among certain portions of the population. It is a painful, life-long syndrome that punctuates through layers of society, ethnicity, and gender issues. The only effective prevention is early individual intervention -- whether that is from parents, from teachers, or from leaders in social settings. There is ample evidence that the cultural influences in our society set a high premium on thinness. Superficial beauty is valued above substance. These messages affect even young elementary schoolchildren and have a powerful impact on adolescents. They come to believe that they will be judged by how thin they are and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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