Young Women and Body Image | Teen Ink

Young Women and Body Image

February 4, 2011
By littlewarrior BRONZE, Lagrange, North Carolina
littlewarrior BRONZE, Lagrange, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Eating disorders affect millions of teens and young women worldwide and are more common in cultures that focus on weight loss and body image. Intense focus on thinness can lead to negative body image and unhealthy eating behaviors in young women. Sometimes, these unhealthy eating behaviors lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating disorders. There are four types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and ED-NOS (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified). Young women with these disorders often have a negative and distorted body image, and intense emotions and behaviors surrounding food. The phrase "body image" means the thoughts and feelings people have about their physical appearance.Young women with eating disorders may start to eat less because they are afraid of gaining weight.Sometimes they binge (overeat, consuming very large quantities of food) and sometimes purge (by making themselves vomit, over-exercising, or using laxatives). Eating disorders affect a person's physical and emotional health. They are very dangerous illnesses and can be fatal if they are not treated right away.Anorexia nervosa is an illness that involves having an extreme desire to be thin. The key elements of anorexia nervosa are: a refusal to keep body weight at a healthy level, an intense fear of being fat, a distorted body image. Many teens who have anorexia stop having their menstrual cycle(period)or don't get it on a regular schedule.physical symptoms of anorexia nervosa is Dramatic weight loss ,Slow heart rate ,Low blood pressure ,Brittle hair and finger nails ,Dry skin & dehydration , and Amenorrhea (menstrual period stops) there are also other signs of anorexia nervosa.Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves frequent bingeing and purging, as well as a distorted body image. Bingeing means eating a lot of food at one time even when you’re not hungry. Following a binge, young women with bulimia will try to get rid of food by vomiting, taking laxatives or by excessively exercising. People with bulimia may hide what they eat from others and feel afraid or ashamed of their behavior.Bulimia is hard to detect from looking at a person since the health problems a teen may suffer from are not as obvious as with anorexia. For example, someone may have a normal weight, but still have bulimia. Also, they may be secretive about their eating habits so that even their family and friends are not aware that they have a problem. Bulimia is serious and can cause permanent damage to the teeth, stomach, digestive track, and heart.Binge eating disorder, or compulsive eating disorder, involves eating large amounts of food in short periods of time without purging. Often, people with binge eating disorder will skip meals or eat small portions when they are around others and then eat large amounts when they are alone. Young women with binge eating disorder often suffer from anxiety, depression, loneliness, shame and/or self-hatred. Their body weight can vary from normal to obese.EDNOS is short for Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. People with EDNOS have some, but not all, of the symptoms of either anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder. For example, young women struggling with EDNOS may have periods of restrictive eating (days or months) followed by periods of overeating or binge eating, or they may be at a very low weight, but not have anorexia because they still get their menstrual period. Young women with EDNOS may also maintain a stable weight that is within a medically safe range, but still have many of the other symptoms and medical complications of eating disorders.Teens who participate in competitive sports that emphasize thinness or artistic activities, such as ballet, running, gymnastics, or skating, are more likely to develop an eating disorder.Society’s intense focus on thinness and appearance influences how young women view their bodies and their self-esteem. While this focus may not cause eating disorders, it can contribute to their development.Family stress of any kind can also contribute to the development of these illnesses. Dealing with difficult transitions, loss, or teasing about weight from friends or family may trigger eating disorders.It can be hard to talk to a friend who you think has an eating disorder. People who have eating disorders are often in denial and do not want to talk about their problems. They may get defensive or upset with the people in their lives who try to get them help. Do not let these reactions prevent you from trying to help someone you care about.Eating disorders are medical and psychological problems. Treatment usually includes working with a team of specialists: a therapist, a nutritionist, and a doctor or nurse practitioner. Treatment is individualized to fit a teen's specific may ask what does a doctor do to treat a disorder. A doctor keeps track of a person's medical health by checking height, weight, blood pressure, pulse, and temperature. It may be necessary to draw blood for lab tests, to make sure the chemicals in the body called electrolytes are stable. Electrolytes are the sodium, potassium, chloride, and carbon dioxide levels in your body. They keep the heart and body working properly. The doctor may recommend that a person stay in the hospital for a few days if her medical condition is dangerous.Medications are often prescribed as part of the treatment for an eating disorder, or for other conditions that people with eating disorders may have such as: depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder. A doctor will prescribe and monitor the medicine.Having a positive self-image, eating a healthy diet, and exercising for fitness and enjoyment will help you to maintain a healthy balance in your life and decrease your risk of developing an eating disorder. The following tips are good ways to stay healthy, build a good body image, and feel better about who you are.Identify and respect everything about yourself- the inside and the outside.
Be yourself. Don’t try to look like models in magazines.
Try not to think or talk about weight, calories, and food.
Try to make eating a positive experience: eating fuels both your body and mind!
Don't diet! Try to eat mostly healthy foods. Work on ways to cope with negative feelings, such as talking to friends or family, listening to music, playing a sport, or doing crafts. Practicing healthy ways to deal with stress may help you avoid using food to deal with emotions.Many researchers are working to figure out how to treat eating disorders. New therapies and medications to prevent osteoporosis, mood and hormonal problems associated with eating disorders are being studied. Many schools are using a curriculum that promotes awareness around eating disorders as well as healthy attitudes about body image. In addition, there is a national effort to offer screening to adolescents and young adults for eating disorders in community health centers and schools so they can get help early. Many health professionals and researchers are working hard to prevent eating disorders and to find new treatments. in conclusion to my article i would like to say if you think you may have an eating disorder it is very important that you talk to your health care provider immediately. If you are too nervous or scared to contact your health care provider on your own, try talking to an adult you trust such as a parent, teacher, relative, or family friend. They can help you to make sure that you receive the help you need. Even if it is scary to get help for an eating disorder, your life may depend on it! The sooner you get help, the sooner you will feel relief from some of your eating disorder symptoms.

The author's comments:
what inspired me to write this piece was my health class at school and learning about eating disoreders i found it to be very interesting. what i hope people will get from this is that no matter what anybody says about your body image doesn't matter because in the long run what you think is the only opinion that matters.

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