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Being Aware of Eating Disorders

Posted by Nirmala N.

I was watching a show on VH1 or some other such trashy celebreality network, regarding women in the media who are "too thin." Now, I've never really paid too much attention to shows like these, because in my opinion, they exploit women's worst insecurities. That is, if the tabloid journalist isn't going on about how stick-skinny someone is, she's too fat or she's too ugly. It's always something, and in some ways, these labels are interchangeable, because it has more to do with the criticism than what the person under attack is being critiqued for.

All the same, the show did raise a lot of questions about eating disorders. The women who were being scrutinized all said at one point or other that they did NOT have an eating disorder but rather, were naturally skinny. However, some of the women (mainly actresses) reported having a strict diet of 800 calories per day. 800 calories per day!!! I couldn't believe that they were in denial, because this, to me, spells out eating disorder.

The classical example of an eating disorder is somewhat distorted--we imagine people like Karen Carpenter, who had an obvious clinical problem, or the stereotypical high school cheerleader who purges her guts on a regular basis because she's scared of gaining weight. I opine that most eating disorders are a lot more subtle and probably undetected, so we need to be vigilant about educating ourselves on what exactly an eating disorder is.

I think that thinness has become so dangerously in vogue that sadly, even gorgeous women like Keira Knightley or Mischa Barton are deluded into thinking that their skinniness is normal. Who wouldn't, if it's such a hot commodity? But for these women to talk about their extreme (or extremely meager) eating habits and then turn around and say they don't have an eating disorder seems disingenous to me. Doesn't matter if you eat regularly--if you're skimping on calories and food groups, that, to me, indicates a problem.

Americans need to have a more open dialogue about what constitutes eating disorders. Sure, we are afflicted with obesity and problems around overeating, but there is still a hugely undiagnosed population of people in the U.S. who are struggling with severe eating disorders.

Comments (2)
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Keira Knightley is only 22, and so it is entirely possible that she is that thin because she's naturally skinny. I'm saying that because I used to be stick thin at that age as well. It wasn't until my late, late 20s and early 30s that I started "filling out" and frankly I think I look better now with a little more weight on than I did in my stick thin 20s. And it was not an eating disorder. I ate whatever I wanted and it just didn't "stick." Now, on the other hand, I know that in Hollywood it's common for women to take diet pills (prescription ones meant for seriously obese people) to keep weight off. There's a black market for them. I know, because I have a friend who uses them. It keeps her body at that "20something" thin even though she's now in her late 30s. Other women I know have had liposuction at a young age. So it may not be an "eating disorder" per se...but there should be a name for other types of bodily abuse done in the name of "thin."
I also think that many of these actresses aren't even taking in 800 calories a day, more like 500. They do a lot of juice and water and...nothing. They're taking all kinds of pills and illegal drugs, too. Cheryl Tiegs had the nerve to put out a diet book in the 80's, when her diet "secret" was lots and lots of cocaine. Her wedding guests say she gave out silver cocaine spoons as wedding favors. All I can say is, "no thanks!" However, I hate that the media has made many men think that the ideal woman should look like that.
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