Do you know what it's like to be a teenage girl with an eating disorder?
Do you know anyone with an eating disorder? Do you know what that is like for them? In the United States alone, there are about 20 million women with an eating disorder (Get the Facts on Eating Disorders). Some men do have eating disorders, but 90 percent people with eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 35 (Silverstein, 6). However, a lot of people do not have an eating disorder, so they don't know what it's like. People need to know what it is like for someone to have an eating disorder so if someone they know has one, they will know that they need to do something about it. They also need to know that eating disorders are not something that the victim can control, and it is not their fault. They are diseases caused by a complex interaction of genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological, and social factors(Eating Disorders).
Anorexia Nervosa is a disease where you think you look differently than you do and you are constantly afraid of gaining weight. For example, if you are at a normal, appropriate weight, you will think that you are actually obese and need to lose weight. There are two types of Anorexia: Restricting and Purging. The restricting type is when you start eating much less or not at all, like you are afraid of food. The purging type is when you do eat, but you later throw it up or use laxatives to remove the food. What do you think it would feel like to have this disease? Women with anorexia look at themselves and are never happy. Another eating disorder is Bulimia Nervosa, which is when you binge eat and then feel ashamed and either throw up, use laxatives, or over-exercise. Jamie Lynn Sigler, an actress on The Sopranos, struggled with Bulimia for years. She says: "Every week I would see my reflection of my back and see more bones coming out, more ribs and more hip bones. It was awful… I really wanted to just be comfortable and be happy, but I didn't think it was possible ever again."(How Truth Heals Eating Disorders). Eating Disorders really do make women feel miserable. Also, almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression(Eating Disorders Statistics).This is another reason why you need to know what it is like to have an eating disorder. If someone you know has an eating disorder, you need to tell someone, so it does not get any worse. If they get over the disease, they will be happier and more confident with their body, which they are not when they have an eating disorder.
You might be wondering how eating disorders affect men and women differently. Women are much more likely to develop an eating disorder. Also, only 10-15% of people with Anorexia or Bulimia are male, which shows that the majority of people with eating disorders are females(Eating Disorders Statistics). Some men are ashamed of having an eating disorder because they believe it is a "women's disease", so they are less likely to seek help. However, just because they are male doesn't mean they should be treated differently about their disorder. This being said, some women, as shown in the video below, feel like they do not deserve to take up as much space as they do, and that men do. Women are often taught to take up less space and never speak out, while men are taught to take up space and speak confidently when they want to. Women can feel like they are not worthy of the food they eat. This can give reason for why eating disorders are more common in females. Men are often taught to be very confident, while women often feel the opposite. Paula Abdul, a judge on American Idol and spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association, says: "It is one of the toughest things to talk about, bar none, and it is one of the hardest disorders to deal with because it’s not black or white. Eating disorders really have nothing to do with food, it’s about feelings." (How Truth Heals Eating Disorders). Women with eating disorders don't feel good about themselves, so they will do whatever they can to try to change that, including starve themselves.
Did you know that 12% of the American population believes that eating disorders are just related to vanity(Get the Facts About Eating Disorders)? A lot of people do not realize that eating disorders are serious diseases that are uncontrollable. This is why it is necessary for people to understand the struggles of having eating disorders. If you don't understand how people with these disorders feel, then you might be insensitive towards those people, telling them they just need to get over it and start eating more. That's not how it works. This is not something they have power over. They think that their body is the one thing that they can control, but in reality, it is not their decision to starve themselves. Therefore, we need to realize that people with eating disorders need help, and many people do not come forward with their problems until someone starts to notice how thin they are. I you do know someone with an eating disorder, they need to either receive therapy, counseling or certain medications(Eating Disorders). Eating disorders are dangerous, and people need to know what it feels like to have one so they will do something if they know someone with an eating disorder.