Dying To Be Thin
By: Maria Broschi
Ours is a society utterly obsessed with youth and beauty. Fashion magazines, television commercials, social media, the entertainment industry, friends, family, and colleagues pressure women to be beautiful. The standard measure for beauty in America deems that anyone with a dress size larger than a size 6 is considered to be fat and in some cases, a sure-fire way to fall from favor. This not only holds true in the fashion industry, but also even in everyday life. Those who are considered to be fat are openly criticized, humiliated, victimized and held in extreme contempt by an ever increasingly and hostile world (i.e., although morally reprehensible, it’s somehow socially acceptable to tell fat jokes). Extreme prejudice against persons who are overweight still exists, especially for women, who are continually pressured to be beautiful. And because discrimination against being fat is somehow the last bastion of socially acceptable discrimination, is it any wonder that such culturally sick standards contribute to body dysmorphia and eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia nervosa? The consequences of this cultural sickness and prejudice do more than destroy a woman’s self-esteem. Many women have died and continue to die from eating disorders because they feel that they can never be the type of thin that is espoused in the media, the entertainment industry, and in our society as a whole. The premise of course, is that being ridiculously thin means that a woman is healthy and beautiful. As is often the case, nothing could be further from the truth.
In an effort to achieve what is thought to be an acceptable level of thinness, many women have become victims of the most lethal psychiatric disorder known as anorexia nervosa, wherein a person literally starves herself to death. Only 23-50% of women ever recover from the disease, no effective treatment exists and relapses range from 4-27%. Other complications from the disease include bradycardia (slow heartbeat), hormonal imbalances (i.e., lowered reproductive hormones, lower thyroid hormones), infertility and retardation of growth in teens. Another complication is of course, death. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), warning signs of anorexia nervosa include:
- Having an intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even when she is underweight
- Refusing to keep weight at what is considered normal for age and height (15% or more below the normal weight)
- Possessing a body image that is very distorted, very focused on body weight or shape, and refusing to admit the seriousness of weight loss
- Loss of menstrual period for three or more cycles
- Cutting food into small pieces or moving them around the plate instead of eating
- Exercising all the time, even when the weather is bad, when injured, or their schedule is busy
- Going to the bathroom right after meals
- Refusing to eat around other people
- Using pills to make themselves urinate (water pills or diuretics), having a bowel movement (enemas and laxatives) to decrease their appetite (diet pills)
- Blotchy or yellow skin that is dry and covered with fine hair
- Confused or slow thinking, along with poor memory or judgment
- Dry mouth
- Extreme sensitivity to cold (wearing several layers of clothing to stay warm)
- Loss of bone strength
- Wasting away of muscle and loss of body fat
And yet, despite the warnings of health officials and even public outcry for instance, against overly thin models, our society continues to engage in the promotion of extreme thinness as a standard for beauty. Some of the women who have fallen victim to this disease include:
- Ana Carolina Reston, model, age 21 (died November 2006. Weight: 88 lbs)
- Isabelle Caro, model, age 28 (died November 2010. Weight: 55 lbs)
- Alanis Morrisette (recovered)
There are too many names of the victims to list here, a list, by the way, that we as a society should be ashamed of because as a whole, our society has allowed this to happen by promoting unhealthy standards of beauty.
Health and beauty is best maintained via a healthy diet and moderate exercise as prescribed by a physician. If you, or someone you know has the aforementioned symptoms of anorexia nervosa, don’t wait to seek help. Let’s all do our part to promote optimal health by also promoting a healthy standard of beauty for all women via mind and body.
Maria Broschi was born in Burlington, Vermont. She is a USAF veteran, having served in Operations Allied Force, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and the Global War on Terrorism. In addition, she has served in Ethiopia as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2007-2009 and has lived and traveled to various places such as Vermont, Utah, Virginia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Crete, France, Germany, Austria, and Ethiopia. She is a published co-author of 3 publications related to Department of Defense Architecture Framework (DoDAF). She currently resides in the Capitol Hill section of Washington, DC. Follow Maria on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/MSBroschi
This entry was posted on Monday, October 3rd, 2011 at 15:50 and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.