Two days after Thanksgiving is a strange time to write about anorexia I know, but it’s been on my mind this week probably because I spent a good portion of the holiday with a box of tissues next to me. My immune system has been down, and it’s my own fault. I haven’t been eating right lately or getting enough sleep—end result, an annoying cold.
It’s not fun having a cold at Thanksgiving. Food just doesn’t taste the same when you can’t smell it, and it’s hard to eat when you can’t breath through your nose. But as I said, I haven’t been eating right lately. Excuse number one—I’ve been busy. When my life gets crazy I compensate at times by skipping meals. When life seems to be out of control. I often lose my appetite and carefully control what I eat. While I’m not sure if I would label myself anorexic, I do have had some anorexic tendencies at times which scares me.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, 10 million females and 1 million males in America are said to struggle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. When you think about it, anorexia is an ironic illness for this land of plenty, but then again is it really? Anorexia is not as much about food as it is about an internal struggle. The struggle to be beautiful, perfect, and in control. It’s a symptom of an often unseen battle.
It is no great wonder that the lives of so many Americas are touched by this disease. There is so much pressure to always look good, to work hard, and to have life perfectly together. We don’t take time out for siestas, instead we are asked to give one hundred and ten percent all the time. With beauty pageants there is the idea that thin equals beautiful and that same idea is constantly reflected on TV and fashion runways. It’s not about what is healthy; it is about what looks hot.
Ever since jr. high I’ve had people tell me they were jealous of my weight or compliment me on my slender form. In high school I struggled with severe acne. In the back of my mind I always thought, “at least I’m not overweight.” I was determined to keep it that way. It was the one thing I could control.
But just as being overweight is not healthy for your body so is being underweight. 20% of people with anorexia die from complications related to this disease. A sobering statistic seeing as anorexia has become the third most chronic illness among adolescents. But is this really surprising when 50% of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 see themselves as being overweight? Think about that 50% for a minute, and if you know a girl who is between that ages of 11 and 13. Tell her she is beautiful just the way she is. It may save her life.