The Thinning Out of American Women

   By drodriguez  Jun 07, 2007

Earlier this year the US held the 20th annual National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW), though with anorexia and other related eating disorders on the rise public education on these topics needs to be a year round practice.

There are a myriad of factors that determine whether a person is more susceptible to developing an eating disorder like a person’s age, personality, history of abuse, depression, and the environment we live in.

When it comes to our environment we are all highly influenced by the things we see and read every day. The glossy, buffed, and distorted photos of models and actresses that we see on magazines help to feed into a person’s already growing neurosis about body image. Not to mention the constant barrage of stories about the latest diet trend, how one celebrity managed to drop pounds, how another cannot manage to lose weight after pregnancy and so on.

However, the media's message is not just to "be thin" (this is where it gets confusing). In one magazine there may be an image of a woman with a gossipy-style caption beneath ridiculing her for being too thin or possibly anorexic and in another that same woman is being commended for her "great figure.”

With many impressionable young women turning to television and magazines as a way to define themselves or see where they fit in, it is no wonder many of them come away feeling more confused and bad about their appearance.

According to the Department of Mental Health (DMH), 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders and seven million of these people are women. Onset of anorexia and other relate Ends occurs mostly between the ages of 12 and 25 (though there are older women and men who suffer).

More people die from eating disorders than any other type of mental illness. The DMH also reports that the mortality rate for anorexia nervosa alone is 12 times higher than any other cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 24. ?

It is no wonder women are turning to such drastic measures when at every turn they are faced with unrealistic images of the size zero model.

If you think you or someone you love is suffering from anorexia nervosa or a related eating disorder there are many organizations that can help. One trusted and helpful website is ANRED ( There you can find answers to many questions, ways to receive help, and much more.

Do you think the media and its "ideal image" plays a big role in the growing number of women suffering from anorexia in this country?

What can be done to prevent women and teens from falling in to the trap of an eating disorder?

Make a Comment

KsFoodie by KsFoodie | Wichita, KS
Jan 29, 2009

It's hard to believe this hasn't had a comment since June, '07 when the topic is far from dead. Yesterday's entertainment news was about how Jessica Simpson has 'let herself go' because she is no longer stick thin. She looks healthy and normal and far thinner than any of the women you'll see in your average shopping mall. When will this craziness end?

ashleyrocks by ashleyrocks | Ocilla, GA
Jun 14, 2007

I agree with cvarano. The actresses and singers shouldn't only look at themselves when they are dieting they should also think about the children around the world who look up to them and want to be like them.If the TV would talk about whats important instead of what someone looks like all the time we might get off of someone being too big or too skinny or too whatever. Everybody isn't the same and if you are in the spotlight and you have someone looking up to do don't do stupid things like starve yourself,or commit adultery cause that is telling our young ones its okay.And thats not true.So if the media and the Celebrities would help out some we would have some things a little better. And if they didn't want people looking up to them and following in their footsteps then they shouldn't be in the spotlight.

cvarano by cvarano | BROOKLYN, NY
Jun 11, 2007

I don't think we'll be able to change this epidemic until the women that young girls look up to, mainly actresses and singers, look more like real healthy women instead of incredibly "starve yourself" thin.

sunbirdz by sunbirdz | PHOENIXVILLE, PA
Jun 10, 2007

The problem with the world is that the perception of beauty is to be rail thin, which I considered very unhealthy. In fact, most people in movies or the rich and famous are too thin. Maybe, they should start using as stars in movies with talent some of the eveyday size people instead of those looking on the verge of death. The average Joe or Josephine that most be people can identify with instead of the few that look sickly considering them beautiful.

OMG_its_Jacqui_x by OMG_its_Jacqui_x | Lafayette, IN
Jun 10, 2007

I must say, this is absolutely one of the most annoying issues. I am a big woman, and I am very proud to be one. I don't understand how people can starve themselves. I usually don't eat breakfast, it's just that I feel sixk in the mornings, or I don't have time. I know that's very wrong, but sometimes, I can't help it. I usually get lunch early anyway, so I didn't think it would matter, but I guess I was defintely wrong!

sharman421 by sharman421 | TALLAHASSEE, FL
Jun 09, 2007

Bottom line is that anorexia and other eating disorders start in the head. It is either a mental illness, or a symptom of mental illness. Depression, bi-polar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are all mental illnesses with various self-destructive and ritualistic symptoms. No matter what the cause, nature or nurture, or a bit of both, it does our society a disservice in general to hold unnaturally thin models and celebrities up as role models for girls and young women. Parents should be aware, and discourage unreasonable dieting. From the time girls are very young, they are pointed toward what will become their perception of beauty.

jemappel by jemappel | Rye Brook, NY
Jun 08, 2007

This issue becomes even more complex because of the growing obesity problem in this country...there is so much media about how terrible it is to be obese which further fuels the neuroses of anorexic people. It's almost like the "rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer"...the fat are getting fatter and the thin are getting thinner. I don't know what to suggest because I've been friends with anorexic and bulemic women and felt helpless - nothing I tried seemed to help. It's similar to alcoholism - you can't really help them until they've decided they want to help themselves.

didama by didama | MAPLEWOOD, NJ
Jun 08, 2007

What is it going to take to change the tide on this craziness? As an extraordinarily educated society, the US should be focused on healthy eating and bodies and not just "physical" attractiveness. We're educated enough to understand that healthy living is the path to a long and vital life. We are so celebrity obsessed that we look to celebrities to be our role models and they are in turn pressured to starve themselves by societal demands for "skinniness". This is what our daughters are learning! It just seems like a vicious and frightening circle.