STUTTERING Essay, Research Paper
American Women: Fading Away
American society has a notion that woman must be super skinny. This notion
has caused a rise in eating disorders. The body images are related to the
different levels of self esteem. Poor body image is associated with depression.
Researchers have found that white women have the highest rate of anorexia and
bulimia. Most actresses and models are so skinny; these women are role models
for girls, so these girls want to be skinny. Young girls have a tendency to look
up to famous women as role models. Since women in America have a view that to be
beautiful one must be skeletal, there is a rise in eating disorders, like
anorexia and bulimia because women feel that they are never skinny enough.
Eating disorders are brought on by personality, family pressures, genetic
susceptibility, and culture. One?s negative body image causes that person to
possibly develop an eating disorder. ?The term body image refers to the
affective component of body image or the feelings one has about one?s body.
Research on body esteem is important because low body esteem has been associated
with vulnerability to depression, anxiety, and low self esteem, which all
contribute to eating disorders? (Calhoun & Henriques, 357). The most
popular eating disorders are bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa. Bulimia is
more common than anorexia. It is characterized as cycles of bingeing and
purging. It usually begins when young women attempt restrictive diets. After
binges these women purge by vomiting or taking laxatives, diet pills, or drugs
to reduce fluids. Women may attempt severe dieting, which cycles back to
bingeing; otherwise the bulimic becomes anorexic. Eating binges average about
1,000 calories, but intake during a binge can be as high as 20,000 or as low as
100 calories. Bulimic people average about 14 episodes of binge- purging a week.
Bulimic people that do not progress to anorexia have a normal to high- normal
body weight, but it may fluctuate by more than 10 pounds because of the binge-
purge cycle. (Grow, 217).
Anorexia leads to a state of starvation and emaciation, losing at least 15%
to as much as 60% of their normal body weight. Half of these people, known as
anorexia restrictors, reduce weight by severe dieting, the other half, known as
anorexic bulimic, maintain starvation by purging. Although both types are
serious, the bulimic type, which imposes additional stress on an unnourished
body, is the more damaging. (Grow, 217).
It is estimated that 8 million Americans suffer from eating disorders,
approximately 7 million women and 1 million men. Most of these cases begin
before 20 years of age. One study reported that two thirds of high school
students were on diets, although only 20% were actually overweight. 90% of
reported eating disorder cases are in women. Bulimia has increased at a greater
rate than anorexia over the past several years. Some experts claim this problem
is underestimated because many people with bulimia are able to conceal their
purging and do not become noticeably underweight. A report concluded that 80% of
female college students have binged. (Philbin, 23).
Researchers found that white women are more prone to eating disorders. White
women are more concerned about their bodies and eating habits. White women are
more likely to have more restrictive diets and negative body image. White women
are more likely to have a low self esteem, which adds to a low body image. This
may be because most models are white women and other white women want to be like
them. Also much of women?s clothing is made to fit slender women. The fashions
that are in style are usually low cut, short, tight and form fitting. Society
thinks that only slender women can look right in this kind of clothing.
Young girls in the Unites States are being trained by the media, their
families and peers to adopt a negative judgment of their bodies. ?Some girls
may be especially accepting of implausible ideals about thinness and/or or may
have personal body- related experiences in early adolescence, including
idiosyncratic response to the developing body within and outside the family,
which leads to extreme body dissatisfaction and vulnerability to depression?(Rierdan
& Koff, 615). They devalue their bodies and believe they most always lose
more weight. They criticize themselves and lose their self esteem. Most young
girls begin worrying about their bodies when they hit puberty. At this time
young girls have an increase of body fat and they realize the culture?s ideal
of thinness. Since teenagers see that overweight teenagers are badgered, they
will do anything they can to never be overweight. A negative body image is
associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. When many women feel their
lives are out of control, so they use food as power. These women feel food is
the only thing in their life they can control. These women develop anorexia and
Models and actresses are many women?s role models. Throughout the years,
women in the spot light keep getting taller and skinnier. These role models are
too involved with being skinny. ?The impossibly thin body has become the
height of fashion. ‘You can?t be too thin,’ is the rather bleak formulation of
this ideal. Some researchers believe that these extreme fashion standards are a
factor in the recent and alarming rise in anorexia nervosa and bulimia among
young women? (The New American Body v10 n3:1). From Twiggy to Kate Moss the
fashion industry has encouraged extreme thinness and a distorted view of women?s
bodies. To be a model one must look unhealthy and emaciated. Anorexic and
bulimic women are glorified on television and magazines. Just by turning on the
television one can see society?s view of beauty. Many actresses must lose
weight to star in a television show or movie. Kate Winslet had to lose much
weight in order to be skinny enough to star in ?The Titanic." Sarah
Michelle Gellar?s stunt double was given the ultimatum to either lose weight
or lose her job because she weighed 105 pounds. Miss America contestants and
Playboy centerfolds are getting taller and skinnier. Almost all young models and
actresses are extremely thin and many women look up to these role models and
want to look just like them. Even mannequins in stores are extremely skinny.
Their hips measure only 31 inches and the average women?s hips measure 37
inches. Most young girls play with Barbie Dolls. These dolls have the
stereotypical ideal figure for American women. There was a study done on Barbie,
the researchers figured out what Barbie?s measurements would be if she was a
real woman. She would have a large chest and hips, yet her waist would be so
tiny that she would not be able to stand. This is yet another example of how
young girls are taught that beauty is thinness.
Even women who are in the right weight bracket want worry about losing just 5
more pounds. Women have a view that they can never be thin enough. It is
impossible for women to achieve their ideal weight because as they lose weight
they continue to drive to be thinner. Vivan Meehan, the founder and president of
National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders (ANAD), explains how
perfection is a factor of eating disorders. Meehan says, ?We are in a society
that suggests we must be perfect in everything and feel that we must somehow
live up to these unrealistic standards? (23).
American society gives women a distorted view on beauty. Women feel to be
beautiful they must be underweight. The media portrays the stars in movies and
television shows as being malnourished, yet beautiful. Models and actresses are
role models to women and many women want to lose weight to look like them. This
causes a rise in eating disorders. Women?s ideal weight keeps getting less and
less. No matter how much women lose, they want to be thinner. They do not know
when to stop. Their bodies just deteriorate until they can no longer stay alive.
Many women will do anything just to be thin and feel beautiful, even if it
results in death.
Broccolo- Philbin, Anne. ?An Obsession With Being Painfully Thin.?
2. Janurary 1996 v22 n5: 23.
Calhoun, Lawrence G. ?Gender And Ethnic Differences In The Body Esteem And
Self- Esteem.? Journal Of Psychology July 1999 v133 i4: 357.
Frederick, Christina M., and Grow, Virginia M. ?A Mediational Model Of
Self- Esteem, And Eating Disordered Attitudes And Behaviors.? Psychology Of
Women Quarterly June1996 v20 n2: 217.
Koff, Elissa, and Rierdan, Jill. ?Weight, Weight- Related Aspects Of Body
And Depression In early Adolescent Girls.? Adolescence. Fall 1997 v32 n127:
?The New American Body.? The University of California, Berkeley Wellness
Dec.1993 v10 n3: 1.