Approximately 0.5 to 1 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 30 have anorexia, and 1 to 3 percent of college-age women have bulimia. In addition to these clinically recognized conditions, there is a virtual epidemic of “subclinical” eating disorders among American women, many of whom do not meet the strict criteria for anorexia or bulimia – such as bingeing, purging, and fasting, or abusing laxatives, diet pills, and diuretics – to keep their weight under control.
There has been a great deal of speculation about just what other factors – besides a cultural emphasis on thinness and the difficulty women have losing pounds – prompt some women to develop eating disorders while others manage to avoid them. One factor is occupational: eating disorders are common in women whose livelihood depends on thinness or appearance – for example, dancers, models, actresses, gymnasts, figure skaters, long distance runners, and jockeys.
Eating disorders can last a lifetime for some people. The thoughts, patterns, and habits that were developed during the disorder are hard to get over and a lot of individuals who are “weight restored” can still struggle with the same mentality that was present during the ED.
I have been very open about how I’ve struggled with an eating disorder since 4 years. It started out with me restricting food because I wanted to lose weight and feel better, but soon I became obsessed with my results and began to starve myself. I lost a lot of weight in a very short amount of time and, soon enough, my health began to deteriorate. I lost my period for three years, my hair started falling out, I was tired all the time, I was isolating myself.
My obsession with food and exercise lasted for about 2 years. I started recovery with the help of my golf coach, family, friends, and doctors. What I needed was a massive amount of support from the people closest to me and I was lucky enough to have friends who really cared about me and helped me with the recovery process. I also went to a nutritionist, which I believe was the best thing I could have done, who helped me throughout the weight gain process.
Since the last year, however, I am at a very uncertain place with regards to how I feel about my body and myself. I know I’m not the only one though, I know so many girls, around my age, who struggle with the same thoughts and patterns and have even partaken in some type of disordered eating. I feel especially upset about how social media portrays women and how we are forced to believe, since a very young age, that there is only one body type that is beautiful. Girls are made to feel like they aren’t good enough or “worth it”, just because they aren’t a size 0.
It’s so upsetting to see how girls as young as 9 are dieting and starving themselves because they want to be “pretty”. This is the kind of mindset I had for a very long time and I strongly believe that social media played a very strong role in shaping the way I thought of myself in such a negative light. It is so wrong to believe that being “pretty” comes in only one size and shape. I know countless girls who are so confident and happy with themselves and how they look even if they aren’t a size 0. It takes a lot to be truly happy with they way you look in our society today, especially when we are constantly told that we can’t love ourselves if we don’t look a certain way.
We are so much more than what we look in the mirror. Instead of striving to be skinny for the wrong reasons, we should pay more attention to keeping our bodies and minds healthy by staying balanced and doing the best we can. This means focusing on not only eating healthy and nutritious food, but also meditating, reading a book, and exercising to FEEL GOOD, rather than tiring yourself every day to look a certain way.
Carlson, Karen J et al. The Harvard Guide To Women’s Health. Harvard University Press, 1996.