I Can’t Believe I Ate A Whole Head Of Lettuce!

1_23_012607_skinnyOnce upon a time I wanted to look like a cover girl, despite whatever feminist consciousness I may have had.

It had not occurred to me that that wasn’t a possibility. It’s what my culture said I was supposed to look like. What I needed to look like to be truly valued.

Full of contradictions, I began my supermodel project. But in a healthy sort of way, I told myself. Wasn’t going to starve. No anorexia or bulimia for me.

I later came to see that I did end up with an eating disorder.

I became obsessed with food. How much had I eaten that day? Constantly counting calories. My worth depended upon how well I had eaten.

At times I swung between overeating and starving. Very little starving – I wasn’t good at it.

I next developed an exercise obsession. You can’t get too much exercise, right? After developing a knee injury from jogging, I tried Nordic Track. Another knee injury. Next, I began walking three miles a day at a brisk pace. Yet another knee injury. Apparently, you can rub your cartilage too much from over-exercise and lack of rest. My physical therapist told me to start biking instead – and don’t overdo it! No more than four days a week, and no hills.

After all the food and exercise mania, I still looked nothing like a supermodel. One day standing in line at a grocery store I picked up People Magazine and read a story on how supermodels did it. I finally understood why I didn’t look like them, and never would.

Kim Alexis had tried every fad diet and at one point starved herself for four days straight.

Carol Alt went on a fruit-only diet. Later, she drank eight cups of coffee a day, and ate salad for dinner.

Andie Macdowell said many models took drugs to deal with the stress of starving.

What struck me most was when Kim Alexis said,

When I first started out, I was rooming in a New York City hotel with (supermodel) Kelly Emberg. One night I came home, and I was eating only a head of lettuce for dinner. Kelly walked in and said, “You’re eating a whole head of lettuce? How could you?” I cried and said, “But it’s all I’ve had all day. It’s not even 50 calories!”

To which I say, “Are you freaking kidding me?!” That big “cheat” would be insane dieting in my book. In anyone’s book, one would hope.

That’s when my hopes for supermodel slim were dashed.

Yes, I had been insane. But not that insane.

And it’s not just me. It’s society. What kind of crazy culture says women must feel guilty about eating nothing but a head of lettuce to “look good”?

So I determined to gain my mental and physical health back. I’ve had ups and downs, but so far so good.

Georgia Platts

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 13, 2011, in body image, feminism, gender, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 40 Comments.

  1. This was an interesting story, and it reminded me a lot of Korean girl groups. Since I’m a big fan of Korean music, specifically K-pop, it’s difficult not to hear about idols who go to extreme lengths to lose weight and achieve the perfect body. Although some girls choose a healthier approach to lose weight, there are others who undergo extreme diets. There are some idols who would only eat one meal a day, and some who would go to as far as starve themselves to gain the perfect figure which is dangerous for the health of their body. This shows how flawed our society is and how little media promotes about body positivity and self-love. Society and media puts so much importance on beauty and appearances that it generates people to think they must look a certain way to be considered beautiful which should not be the case at all. Each person is unique and beautiful in his/her own way.

  2. I have had my own experience and could relate with the “supermodel project.” I was told growing up by my own parents that girls should be skinny and have “long legs.” Also, that girls should have to look like a model for men. I would not eat until I went home after school and that was around five or six at night. I would have only one meal a day and run on the track at my school which made me super exhausted everyday. That went on until I was a sophomore in high school. After, I came to a realization that I was not mentally happy and my body was not happy as well. Now, I am no longer following that diet, prioritizing my health, and concentrating on loving myself. Since now that society is more accepting towards all body types, it has slowly helped me accept my body too. I am not as self conscious like I was back then when I was trying to look like a model.

  3. Alejandrina Lara

    This subject touches home. I cant even remember the first time I went on a diet, Maybe ten years old? From then it just became an addiction, What was the fastest way to loose wight?. Desperately to show my mother that i had lost weight (she was obsessed to make me skinny), I started taking taking laxatives to flush out everything i had eaten. Of course your body gets use to it so I would find other ways. I just loved food to much. I would ensure starvation, laxatives, crazy diets thinking i was doing it just to please my mother. But in the back of my mind i did want that super model body. during my junior year in college I finally started loosing weight, but now being 25 I’m at my heaviest. I no longer do crazy diets or anything that can jeopardize my health. I follow the Kardashians (reality show family) on social media and i see the sacrifices they actually put themselves to be that body perfect and most of it is surgery. I follow the body positive movement and I’ve come to terms to love my body and to loose weight for the right reasons.

  4. But then men also celebrate and crave fat when it’s in the breast. Because fat dictates the size of a breast and fat is what makes a breast “jiggle.” What do they think is in there, anyway? Seriously. What part of your body is going to jiggle if it’s not FAT? So men want women to have fat breasts but nothing else fat. It’s still the same fat, though. It’s not like it’s pretty fat or magical sparkly fat. Fat is fat. And it’s hilarious that the same men who say fat rolls are disgusting would be getting a boner from that roll if you slapped a nipple on it.

  5. I am so glad that you wrote about this because eating disorders are a huge problem In todays society and are not talked about enough. I don’t know when or where it started but the idea of the “perfect” body has been brain washed into almost every woman and young ladies minds. I grew up with two older sisters who dieted to always try to make their bodies perfect. I always thought to myself, “when does it stop”. when are they going to look the way they want to. for a very long time i used to think that I also wanted to look like the Jessica Simpson. not that long ago I realized its all a lie. Media paints the picture that these celebrities are as healthy as can be and are perfect when that is far from the truth. I’m not saying that all celebrities are not healthy but i think that the majority of them go to unhealthy and dangerous lengths to look “their best”. i would be lying if i said I don’t envy they way they some girls bodies look still but i know that in reality I am probably never going to look like that. in my opinion being healthy and feeling comfortable in your own skin is more valuable. i think that if celebrities started so show their photos untouched and companies started to use models with different body types that woman would be more comfortable as themselves and stay healthy.

  6. Supermodels make up like the 5% of what real women look like because women are not suppose to be a size 00 nor have that much curvature for someone that size. Women are willing to go the whole nine yards to look anything like a model, that is something that still boggles my mind. This is something that I can somewhat relate to because I love to do yoga every day and I walk briskly every other day for like hours. I have yet to injure myself but I am always self conscious about how I look. I know being “fat” is not something a woman wants to achieve but being super skinny is something to be proud of either. Healthy and fit is something that women should aim for not sickly emaciated.

  7. The lengths women go to in order to look similar to models is wild to me. As a female athlete, I concern myself less with what I eat and more with how my body feels day to day. I think women who play sports and women who do not have different ideas of what they would like their body to be like. I think if more girls were introduced to sports at a young age, their mindset would be different as well. Strong is beautiful, happy is beautiful, and most of all, being comfortable and proud of yourself is beautiful. As an athlete, I am comfortable with my body and myself and also, after having worked out 3 hours a day, there’s nothing better than treating yourself to a big burger every now and then. Models have to count calories to lose, athletes count calories to maintain. I know sports aren’t for everybody but if you’re a food lover like myself, I’d choose athlete over model any day.

  8. First of all I love the title! It is so me right me now. Sad and scary. I do ‘bootcamp’ at 6:00 a.m. 3 days a week. I do a trampoline class, and it is brutal, twice a week. I walk my dog 4 miles a day, six days a week and I go to the gym 3 days a week to weight train. Last night it was my hubbies birthday and we went out to dinner. I wanted the lobster mac n cheese or the crab roll served on a big grilled sourdough roll. But my mind told me to order the steamed crab, get some veggies and roasted potatoes. I ate the crab, took a few bites of green beans all the while salivating over the potatoes that were extra crispy from being somewhat fried. There were five small ones on my plate. I ate three, and with each bite cursed myself. I left the last two and still was so mad at myself for eating three. I should have had only one. I will never achieve the supermodel look either, but when will I start to love who I am???????

  9. Deirdre da Silva

    I really enjoyed reading this post, and could really relate to it! There is so much pressure on women to look like the models they see almost everywhere, and are often judged if they don’t, but people hardly seem to realize that it is quite unrealistic to look that way, not to mention the fact that almost all the images we see have been photo-shopped and airbrushed. Besides the fact that we were all born with different body types, and for most of us, no matter how much we diet or exercise, it is just not going to happen, at least not by any healthy means. It is really unfortunate that most women spend years and years being unhappy with, and trying to change their bodies into something they can’t instead of being happy and accepting themselves for what they are.

  10. Tonya (Facundo) Kamaloni

    I think the idea of what is beautiful and thin has evolved over time. In the not so distant past, Marilyn Monroe was a size 12. By today’s standards, that is considered to not be the norm of someone that is considered thin. Yet she was looked at as one of the most beautiful women in history. The media and society are supposedly a reflection of popular culture but I often wonder if it drives popular culture and not the other way around. I battle with my weight just as much as the next person but I have learned to tell myself, those ultra thin beautiful women are not the norm but the exception. And I also realize, that no matter how hard I try, I will not be like those supermodels so why try. Instead, I’m going to focus on being the healthiest, best me!

  11. Silvana Ciorbea

    Many supermodels do go to drastic lengths to stay in the industry and it’s sad. Unfortunately this is the way society is and this is what little girls grow up believing. Nowadays you can find five year olds that go on diets. It’s really important to talk to young girls and tell them the truth about models and the industry because most people don’t look that way naturally, not to mention photoshoping and airbrushing are also things commonly used in modeling. I have a cousin that’s eleven and each time I talk to her she tells me that she’s overweight and going to go on a diet and she’s about 5 ft tall and maybe 90 lbs. It breaks my heart and confuses the heck out of me that she believes this but then I remember that I was the exact same way at her age. This is why it’s important to talk to kids because they don’t need to be so hard on themselves at so young an age, especially since it can lead to deadly eating disorders and other problems.

  12. Growing up in our society, I think there is a point in everyone’s life where they feel that they need to act or look a certain way to fit in. I myself felt the same way a few years ago. I starved myself and purged whenever I did eat. Also at the same time, I would take many different kinds of diet pills at once. During that time, I always felt tried and run down. When I look back to when I wasn’t dieting and obsessing about my weight, I was more healthy, energetic and best of all, HAPPY. As to when I was dieting I always felt depressed when I gained a pound or two and whenever I felt that I ate too much. Now, I want to get those days or being HAPPY and not being run down all the time, so slowly I’ve come to accept that everyone is different and if everyone were to look the same, what would then be unique about human life.

  13. Society is to blame for many of women’s insecurities. The media such as: magazines, television, books and etc all show women in their “perfect form.” No two women are made the same and not every women can have a supermodels body. Even when we look at women’s characters in our kids’ books, the women are pretty much slim figured. These are the types of images which shape our upbringing. I personally, prefer “full-figured” women and do not find the “super-model” type to be attractive. Some of my male friends seem to judge women based on their physical appearance. They’re all searching for that skinny gorgeous supermodel type woman and pass up some good ladies in the process. Not me, as long as you can cook, are responsible, and enjoy life you are fine in my book. I am not ashamed to be seen with any woman whether she’s thin or thick because who am I to judge. No one’s perfect and God created us a certain way for a reason; because there is someone in the world who will love you for just the way you are. So to all the ladies you don’t need to eat a whole head of lettuce, to feel attractive. You’re already attractive and to whoever don’t like it they’re lost 🙂

  14. society forces women to look like a cover girl. :/ unfortunately it’s true, i tried to look good and worked out alot. luckily it worked but mainly because i’m male and losing weight is much easier. i stopped my working out habits and gained a lot of weight after, and now i don’t really care of how i look just as long as my weight will not interfere with my health.

  15. One of the most interesting things about this article were the comments below it. No doubt in my mind that most women sometime in their lives struggle with their body image. Society makes it so hard for women to not be at least a little self conscious about their body. The images that young women see in magazines and television today are stick thin women who may have an eating disorder, yet these are women who we look up to. However, in recent times there have been well-known actresses who are reaching out to society and embracing the curves that they were born with. If more high status women did do this and did not just boast about their baby food diets we would have a happier world where women are comfortable with who they are.

  16. Reading this posting, I have had my similar experiences with it. While looking at supermodel’s bodies, I have always seen it as an impossible task to look like them. Being that skinny does come with the consequences of eating disorders and starving, which is something I could never do. Society does play a large role in how women feel about their bodies, which make them want to change their looks and bodies to something smaller. I believe even though society shows these small women, any girl or woman should feel comfortable in their own body. Personally, I have stayed tone and healthy. This is leading me to a good, healthy lifestyle and a body that isn’t anorexic skinny. Going to the extremes, like only eating a head of lettuce, is crazy and shouldn’t be done. In order to have a good body, you need a healthy balance of meats and other foods. Society needs to look more at these things instead of putting “role models” out there that are very small with an unhealthy diet.

  17. I had to laugh out loud when Kelly asks whether or not the author really ate a whole head of lettuce for dinner. Doesn’t something just seem terribly wrong and ridiculous with that statement? Our bodies require balanced meals to stay alive, healthy and functioning normal. Our bodies were not meant to have to endure morsels of food a day to accomplish all the millions of tasks it does daily for us. Looking “good” has it’s physical aspects but more importantly you need to feel “good” on the inside. It is very possible to still eat a normal amount and even indulge once in a while as long as you exercise and take care of your body. Stick skinny models are not what define beauty. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and what may be beautiful for someone may simply be unhealthy for the rest of us. As a society we need to remember to keep our bodies healthy and strong and appreciate our bodies the way they were given to us.

  18. I fully agree with you that the cultural pressures to look like a thin supermodel abounds, especially here in the US. Whenever you look in a magazine, on TV, or at a movie, pretty much every woman you see is slim and pretty, and they all seem to lead such perfect lives. In most movies, for example, even when women go through tough times, they do so just they way they are “supposed” to (they cry at the right moment, they bounce back at after the appropriate amount of time, and so on), and they still look fabulous though it all. I find this image of women so depressing, and it always leaves me feeling deficient.

    American movies especially make me feel down, and most of the time, I walk away feeling like I have to “fix” myself. So, instead of torturing myself, I try to watch mostly foreign films. Non-American films haven’t quite caught on to the supermodel ideals yet, and people are usually portrayed in a much more realistic way. For example, I just saw an Italian film called the Double Hour, and in the film, everyone seems so human. They don’t have perfect bodies (and you get to see lots of them fully naked), they don’t have perfect morals, but they do the best they can. The movie was a little dark, but I still left the theater feeling uplifted. The contrast from how I feel after seeing a Hollywood film really made me realize how oppressive the thin supermodel image of women is to me.

  19. I have gone through a similar experience. I was always watching everything I ate, not to be healthy but to be thinner. I was already a tiny size, and girls, especially, would tell me how skinny I was and how jealous they were. Despite what other people told me, I wanted to be skinner. I wanted a flat stomach and thinner thighs. It started to take a toll on me and my boyfriend was the first one who noticed I lost a significant amount of weight. When I went back home to visit my family, they would show concern and ask if I was eating. My boyfriend was the one who told me I needed to start eating more and that I couldn’t have the diet I had, which was hardly anything. I don’t think it helped that I had a roommate who was on the same level as I was. She is equally if not skinnier than I am and wouldn’t eat much.

    Thinking back on it now, I can’t believe I put my body through that stress. Sometimes, women don’t realize that they are putting their bodies through it and soon become comfortable enough with the small amounts of food they are consuming. I definitely didn’t see how bad it was for me until someone stood up to me and told me.

  20. What a great article! This topic connects so many people and goes to show how much alike we really are. I too am obsessed with my weight. I used to do it for my own gratification. When I had twins and got gestational diabetes, I learned about diet, exercise and what is needed for my body. Although, I never ate a head of lettuce by itself, I quickly had to be in love with not over indulging in eating, because of the possibility of getting type II diabetes. I was relieved that now I had a great excuse keeping myself in shape and also do not step on the scale every morning. I will not be chained to that anymore.

  21. Anthalanette Andrews

    I can truly agree with some of the information in the article. First I will let you know that the majority of my life I had been a size 5. Everyone used to tell me when I was younger; just wait until you start having kids and/or approaching the age of 30 years old that would all change. Well, I had my first child at age 19 and about two weeks after delivering I was right back down to a size 5. I had the second child at age 22 and once again a couple of weeks after delivery I was back down to a size 5. I basically stayed a size 5 until I reached 40 and then out of nowhere pounds pounded on me. Since the age of 40 I have had fluctuating weight sometimes down and sometimes up. I used to try and figure out what was going on? Was it stress or happiness or a health ailment but everything checked out fine. Then I realized that this up and down weight thing was what I had been warned about all along. So I decided to start watching what I eat and how much as well as participating in a regular routine of exercise; however I am not the size at this time that I would like to be, but I try and put effort into getting that size on a daily basis. I too have tried the extreme dieting, which failed, then I began to just eat whatever I wanted and that definitely did not work. Now I am just at the point where I eat what I want and I proportion my food in the efforts of getting to the size I would like to be, which is a size 7 or 9 no bigger.

  22. I have always been in shape. Weighing in at 137, college softball player, work-out maniac etc. This was all before having a baby… I gained a significant amount of weight obviously. And I thought that, just like celebrities, it would only take me a month or two to get back into shape. That never happened. I was really hard on myself. I tried everything to get thin. I was never good at eating little as well, and if I tried to not think about food it would make me even more hungry! ahh. I had to snap out of it. Not only did I have to get rid of my negativity for myself but for my son. I had someone who counted on me and it wasn’t until I fully accepted that truth was when I snapped out of it and began to love myself again.

  23. Its weird how society is, general media portrays women should be small petite skinny perfect looks, yet right after the covergirl commercial is a commercial for the new mcdonald mcchickens at such an insanely good price you should get two. I know there are groups out there pushing out to young women that just a general healthy lifestyle is sexy and good for you. Unfortunately its not enough to really spread the word, and the most depressing part about it is fast food companies killing Americans thrive in low income cities. But in the end a company can only be held so responsible.

  24. This is a topic that I am familiar with as well as some of my friends. It turns out that when we try to watch what we eat all we end up doing is thinking about food all day. This leads us to overeating far more than we would have if it was not our focus all day. I think part of the reason why people choose such dramatic ways of dieting is for the fastest results possible. I think when you first feel the moment of I feel disgusting you just want the feeling to immediately go away so sometimes you do a dramatic diet or crazy workout. I know I feel immediately disgusting after eating sometimes and it’s just not that easy to cut out food and get the results you want. It does take the perfect balance of diet and exercise and I think it just something people have a hard time understanding.

  25. Kimberly jane

    I feel like you wrote this just for me, i can see myself in all the things you were describing unfortunately. For a long time i tried any and everything to get thin, and attain that slim figure, while my efforts were thwarted by my inability to starve and purge, i never reached my goals. But i got to a point where i was willing to, and thats what worried me. how do they force themselve to harm their bodies? and how do they become so obsessed with such a minuscule part of life that they dont see that its hurting them in the long run.
    I can say that i have been part of that media forged cult, and not willingly, i was seeing how all my friends were becoming weight conscious, and this was in middle school mind you, and i hadnt thought about it before, but these girls equated sex appeal with how their bodies matched up to these covergirls, so i started to too.
    yes i had a mind of my own but the power of the masses got to me, and ive been struggling ever since.

  26. Kristina Mardinian

    It is difficult to believe the stereotypical image women are told they must live up to in order to be considered “beautiful” in our society today. Not only is this seen in our widespread media it is also included in our daily lives through the things people say. Women grow up with the idea that beauty is everything and what one must do in order to be considered beautiful. It has nothing to do with the individual’s personality or their inner feelings but instead is purely based on the superficial beauty on their outside. I hope for future generations, that this stereotypical image of “perfection” will slowly disappear and be replaced with the true values in a person.

  27. Katherine Alvarez

    This is how I have felt for the past two years. Before I got pregnant with my son I was less than 100 pounds without having to diet or exercise. Everyone would tell me how lucky I was and I just shrugged it off. After I gave birth, I was weighing in between 130-135 and I felt disgusting. Now everyone at the time was telling me that I finally looked “normal” and had put on some much needed weight, but I didn’t feel normal because it wasn’t what I was used to. I realized then that I wasn’t just unhappy with my weight because I was used to being less than 100 pounds, but it was because I had always conformed to what I saw every single day in magazines and T.V.

    I realize today that I may not have the body that I used to have, and it has been a struggle for me only because it is what I see every single day and what I used to not have to worry about. It is sad that this is what is forced upon us every single day and what we think to be pretty or normal. I don’t think that double zero is beautiful now because I realize how not normal it truly is. On-the-other-hand it makes me really sad that this is what is forced upon the molding minds of our future. It is too often that adolescents think that this is what is beautiful and that this is the only thing that is beautiful. I never want my children or even my younger sisters to feel like they have to conform the the “supermodel skinny” in order to feel good about themselves. I think as soon as we can get rid of this idea of supermodel skinny we can have women break free of this stereotype of women’s beauty.

  28. Tricia Sanders

    I struggle with this topic, possibly because I am constantly struggling with my looks. I still want the flat tummy, and toned legs and I have hopes that I can do this while being healthy. I love working out and would stay at the gym all day if I wasn’t constantly running errands, going to classes, or working. As of now I feel like my workout obsession is healthy and I take my days to rest and I eat healthy food ALL the time and some bad…this girl loves ice cream. My main goal is to be healthy and comfortable in my own skin and working out accomplishes this for me.

    I feel like a lot of weight issues are a cause of from advertising, movies, and society which lead to a lack of confidence. Some do not realize that confidence does not have to be associated with looks, but how you feel about yourself and your accomplishments.

  29. When I was younger I used to be a big kid because I ate a lot of food. I loved eating food and still do today, but when I was young the other kids would make fun of me for being overweight and that bothered me deeply. I loved food but I hated the idea of being overweight and every one constantly reminded me of that. Peer pressure will make sure you have socially acceptable body size. So I gave up what I loved in order to be loved, or what I thought was the love of my peers. What I figured out is that a good body might help how people look at you initially but it won’t help you make true friends. That comes from the heart and no diet will achieve that.

  30. It truly shocks me how significant the threshold society has on the people, in particularly women. Growing up with drowning narrow guidelines and requirements, young women can get lost, and confused with its constraining orders. If you dont have the skinny body of a European, the tan skin of a Brazilian, the boobs of a Middle Easterner, the butt of a African American, and the style of a fashion fananza you are drifting out of the status quo. Through magazines, commercials, television, and internet women are constantly being exposed to images they should fit under. Through this significant pressure, girls are putting themselves under great risk to be what society says is, perfect. Trying to achieve this cover girl look, and obsessing over their image, women start to lose their sense of self, and who they really are. Anybody who tries to fit into a category polar to their own, is being somebody they are not and losing all unique aspects of who they are. Through the great achievements and progression of women’s rights and our journey to become equals of men, we are being pushed back by this oppressed image. This narrow perfect look society bestows upon us, is negatively impacting our movement. Instead of harvesting the importance of individuality and unique virtues of each person, we are emphasizing the importance of being this type of cover girl or super model.

  31. Karin Hjertstedt

    I truly believe that any woman in the course of her life has had, at least at some point, a rather abnormal relationship towards food or exercise. Again, I am inclined to agree with that it is not “us,” it’s society. After seeing “Killing us softly” by Jean Kilbourne for a fourth time, it almost makes me cry when I think about what kind of society we actually do live in. Not only does advertisement make us feel guilty about what we eat, but on top of that, advertisement promotes insane ideals that very few women (unless you hit the genetic jackpot) can live up to. In the supermodel industry, genes play a huge part to begin with and not many women have a supermodel “body type” no matter how much exercise or diet women apply. Considering advertisements for women, they are similar to the expression “one size fits all”….it doesn’t and never will. Diversity is something to embrace not to frown upon.

  32. It is no question that women are constantly judged and scrutinized in the eyes of society. There is a huge stress over how women should look in terms of their physical appearance and attaining that unrealisticly “ideal supermodel figure.” The stigma associated with the social media glamorizes the ideal body but its unattainable. Most models and highlighted celebrities are heavily airbrushed and touched up in photos. Unfortunately, it strains the fact that so many women attempt to attain their body even if it compromises their health. This develops a bulk of eating disorders amongst women in the U.S. Women need to grasp onto a strong sense of self-efficacy to overlook traditional gender roles and believe that they are strong, beautiful, and bold in their own skin despite the notions of trying to look like a “supermodel.”

  33. Santosh Kalidindi

    I can relate to this post from my own personal experience. For example, my friend used to have a very unhealthy eating disorder in order to look younger and improve her personal image. In fact, she was so caught up in looking skinny and looking pretty that she would only eat one small salad a day.
    Also, I believe there were two main factors for her obsessiveness in dieting and losing weight.
    The first is social. Television, movies, and magazines are examples of media that bombard people with messages about the “advantages” of being thin. Impressionable women are then essentially told either directly or indirectly by other well known people such as actors or moderls that power, admiration, approval, intelligence can all require physical beauty and thinness.
    The second is largely due to her family. Her parents had extremely high expections for her in her activities such as playing the flute, or running track. This along with her parent’s cricital comments of her appearance such as their jokes of her chubby body figure when she was younger destroyed her personal confidence. As a result, she tried to resolve her problems and insecurities through controlling her weight and appearance.

    • Yes. Those factors have both been shown to be involved in eating disorders. Different people latch onto different things so the cause isn’t always exactly the same.

      Thanks for sharing.

  34. Even though I weigh 100 pounds, I’ve been so used to being the smallest girl everyone’s known in high school, college, etc. and I still don’t want to not be that anymore. When I notice that I’ve begun to gain weight sometimes, it makes me want to work out or eat a little healthier, but it never motivates me enough to actually change my routine. I’ve realized that it’s important to be healthy over being less than 100 pounds. It’s important to work out to have strength and stamina to do things as simple as moving or pushing open a door. It gets ingrained to girls’ brains at a young age that we’re supposed to be small, or that being small is attractive. Hopefully most people realize as they mature that that’s not the case, and that it’s not what’s most important after all. There are even some plus size models now, and designers often get more media coverage if they feature bigger models in their shows. It is sad to read about young celebrities who come out about their eating disorders, showing that we are so caught up in looking like ideal stars. Some people learn the hard way through eating disorders, etc. I can only hope that the trend of wanting to eat HEALTHY and work out to be HEALTHIER will surpass the trend of wanting to be rail thin. I hope that in 20 years, some of the world’s biggest TV and movie stars will be bigger, and that eating disorders won’t be as common as they are today.

  35. A really great documentary to watch about models/beauty/media influence–pretty much all factors that contribute to a society full of disordered eating is, “America the Beautiful,” by Darryl Roberts. Watch it! I learned a lot from it.

    I could name a lot of groups that foster unhealthy notions of body image aside from modeling. Wrestling, gymnastics, ski jumping (?), gay males, ballroom dancing, partner skating, can you think of more? As 1) female, 2) a former cheerleader, and 3) in pole vault which required every participant to get weighed (in front of everyone) prior to each competition for safety reasons, I have seen a lot of disordered eating. The world of eating disorders is a topic very close to my heart, just because I have encountered it with such frequency. And It seems to me like competition against other (women) was a major motivating factor in each of the people I knew in the above groups that had a recognizable eating disorder. Your thoughts on other factors that make the U.S. rife with eating disorders?

    The sad fact that even without these “anorexic-niches” in my life, chances are I would have experienced the world of eating disorders anyway. “Four out of ten Americans either suffered or have known someone who has suffered from an eating disorder.” And more astonishing stats can be found here:

    Click to access Statistics%20%20Updated%20Feb%2010,%202008%20B.pdf

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