Comment permalink

Eating Disorders

I had no serious idea of how scary bulimia and anorexia really were when I first heard of them in the 80's. "Binge and purge" sounded like a joke to me. As a person who totally avoids "purging" at all costs, I couldn't picture myself in the shoes of someone with an eating disorder. 

The first person I met with an eating disorder was an extremely beautiful girl with what most would call a perfect body. On the outside, she had the perfect life.  Her family was the wealthiest in town and she drove a red hot convertible mustang.

She was a little bit chunky as a kid and somewhere along the way, she got the strange notion in her mind that she was fat. As a result, she started her own "binge and purge" tradition, usually involving buckets full of ice cream with a special trip to the toilet immediately following. Her friends did the exact same thing, so weren't worried about her and her parents were too busy divorcing to notice. I met her when she in college and was on the downswing from her eating disorder.

If we attended a wedding together, she would eat no less than four pieces of cake and steal her boyfriend's frosting, no matter how sweet it was. If we went out drinking together, eating at the end of the night was a big part of the event. The physical symptoms were strange- often after drinking, often she would have a loss of bladder control, causing her to wet the bed on more than one occasion. And, of course, her weight would fluctuate up and down, and like Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror", she never looked quite right to herself. The long-term effects that she will experience are likely to be both kidney and heart problems, in addition to always having body image problems,
 
Many people blame the fashion industry for their portrayal of emaciated models. In 2006, the focus on the modeling industry shifted after a Brazilian model died due to her anorexia. At the time of her death, she weighed only 88 pounds. In response, some fashion shows banned models with eating disorders. However, some experts in this article cautioned that there are several factors that can cause a woman or girl to have an eating disorder, including the possibility of genetic factors.

Now, the problem could be worse with all of the airbrushed models shown in fashion spreads and advertisements. Both the British and French governments are considering labeling airbrushed advertisements in magazines, largely due to how the advertisements affect young girls and their body images.

The models themselves are suffering from eating disorders as well. In 2007, a study was released stating that as many as 40% of fashion models suffer from eating disorders. If young girls are looking to these models as role models, the fashion industry needs to take some responsibility and promote healthier choices for their models.