?Anorexia is a condition that affects every part of you, your body, and your mind. In the
world that we live in, where on every magazine cover, every tv show, and even in your home
room, you see beautiful, skinny girls that seem to have everything they want. They seem to be
popular, always happy, and have the perfect body. Many girls that are just beginning to go
through adolescence feel that to be these perfect girls, they have to be skinny. They turn to
Anorexia is a serious eating disorder, in which girls have an intense fear of becoming
fat. The diagnostic criteria, although not all patients with anorexia experience these
symptoms, are characteristics of anorexics. Anorexics have a refusal to maintain body weight
at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. Their weight loss leading to
maintenance of body weight is below 20% of the expected body weight of healthy individuals
at the same age and height. Some anorexics have a distorted body image of themselves,
leading them to believe they are fat, even if they are seriously underweight.
The physical signs that can be seen or felt are dramatic weight loss in a relatively short
period of time, skeletal look, sunken eyes, dry, yellow, or grey skin, thinning hair, hair growth
on arms, legs and other body parts in effort to keep heat in, loss of body muscle and fat,
dizziness and headaches, complaints of often feeling cold, fainting spells, inability to sleep,
exhaustion, and their period stopping or never starting
The psychological characteristics of anorexics may include an obsession with weight
and complaining of weight problems, obsession with continuous exercise, visible food
restriction and self-starvation, isolation and fear of eating around and with others, self-
defeating statements after food consumption, low self-esteem, needing acceptance from
others, perfectionistic personality, mood swings, and depression.
Unseen dangers of an anorexic are a shrunken heart with an irregular beat, low body
temperature, brittle bones, low blood pressure, slower pulse, and stunted growth. Self-
starvation, if not treated, eventually leads to heart and kidney disorders, organ failure, and
There are many reasons why a young girl becomes anorexic, but in many cases, the
girls are high achievers, and try to please those around them. They may be the girls you know
that are straight-A students and have busy schedules. This perfectionistic personality leads
them to believe that to make their family, friends, teachers, and coaches happy, they need to
be perfect, and thin. Although they seem as though they have everything going for them, they
have low self-esteem and may not want to grow up. Many cases develop at the ages 11 or 18,
the beginning and ending of adolescence, when girls at both stages are entering a new phase
in life. In past cases, the typical anorexic was a white teenage girl from a middle-class good
home. Now, anyone can suffer from anorexia, including teenage boys.
Anything can trigger the girl into thinking she must be thin. Sometimes constant
teasing from classmates and peers can make a girl believe that if she were thin, nobody would
be making fun of her. A sexually, physically, or mentally abusive parent may trigger a girl into
The girl starts off on a diet, usually not very serious. She will start restricting what
foods she eats and how much. Instead of a normal 2200 calories a day diet, she may drop to
1200, or 800 calories a day. When someone comments on how good she looks, or that she
has lost a few pounds, she thinks, If they think I look good now, wait until they see me 5
pounds lighter, then 5 pounds lighter than that. Eventually the girl is starving herself, eating
only very low calorie, low fat foods, such as a handful or grapes, two spoonfuls of yogurt, and
a few sips of water as a meal. Soon, she gets used to being hungry, and she physically
Eating disorders are common in sports that emphasize being thin.According to a
1992 American College of Sports Medicine Study, eating disorders affect nearly 62% of
females in sports such as figure skating, ballet, and gymnastics.
Many athletes develop eating disorders to please coaches or judges. One comment
from a coach or judge to lose a few pounds to get extra lift on a flip can cause serious damage
to the athlete. In the case of Christy Henrich, at a 1988 meet, an US judge told her she was
too fat and needed to lose weight if she wanted to make the Olympic Team. She battled
anorexia and bulimia for six years. Her lowest weight was 47 pounds. On July 26, 1994, at
the age of 22, she died of multiple organ failure at a hospital.
Those athletes that are especially at risk are ballet dancers. They have great pressure
to have the ballet physique, the look of the genre of the veritably, the length of the spine, the
open stance and the lean look. The young dancer feels if she never has these features, she
will never be a great dancer.All during class dancers are told to hold up their stomachs, so
they have a thin profile. Also, they are constantly looking in mirrors and comparing themselves
to the other dancers in the class. They are seeing who is thinner than they are, and think they
need to lose weight to be the best dancer in the class.
The sad thing about anorexia is many never totally overcome it. They may spend time
in a hospital at the beginning of their treatment, to gain back lost weight. They have to go to
many psychologists and therapists to resolve conflicts and improve self-esteem. Many
patients may seem to recover, just to fall back into starving themselves, or other harmful eating
patterns. Up to 30% of all anorexics die of complications of the disorder, or from suicide from
the depression. With psychiatric help, about 1/3 of all patients overcome this disorder.
An important thing for anorexics to remember is that they are not alone. Many normal
teenage girls fall into the dangerous disorder of anorexia. It may seem like the famous
actresses, models, and those girls in your school have everything, and that they are perfect,
but the truth is everyone is insecure about themselves, and nobody is ever happy all the time.
Anorexia is such a dangerous disorder that nobody should starve themselves to have the
perfect body society makes them believe they must have.
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2. Erlanger, Ellen. Eating Disorders. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications
3. Sonder, Ben. Eating Disorders: When Food Turns Against You.
4. Eating Disorders. Nutrition and Fitness. MacMillan Health
5. Thompson, Colleen. Athletes and Eating Disorders. Online.
6. Eating Disorders in Ballet Dancers. Online. Available: