National Eating Disorder Awareness Week is Febuary 25- March 3, 2007
It is estimated that 10 out of every 100 young women suffer from an eating
disorder. These women are your sisters, friends, cousins, daughters,
nieces, neighbors—people you see nearly every day. If being a role model
would prevent any of these special people from developing an eating
disorder, would you do it? If you answered yes, read on. Experts say that
eating disorders are much easier to prevent than to cure. No matter what
your age—teen or grandma—taking these actions can help heal a young
woman's disturbed eating before it starts:
1. Don't diet. According to the experts at Anorexia Nervosa and Related
Eating Disorders, dieting is the strongest eating disorder trigger there
is. In fact, young women who go on low-calorie diets are 18 times more
likely to develop an eating disorder than non-dieters. Just as shocking:
Three of the strongest risk factors in the development of an eating
disorder are a mother who diets, a sister who diets, or friends who diet.
2. Forbid teasing about body shape and size. People are sensitive to
other people's opinions. Even what seems like playful teasing—for
instance, calling someone "bubble butt"—can wound a person's self-esteem
and even push her to diet away the offensive body part.
3. Praise people for who they are, not how they look. By emphasizing
people's talents and abilities, you send a powerful message that an
individual's soul and her accomplishments are more important than her face
or body size.
4. Be comfortable in your skin. Use and enjoy your body for all the
wonderful things it can do. Never criticize it's shape or refuse to
partake in an activity (such as swimming) because of it's size or how it
looks in a bathing suit. How you treat your own body sends a powerful
message to young women regarding how to treat their own bodies.
5. Speak out against unrealistic media portrayals of women. Young women
are so bombarded with images of surgically-altered, airbrushed, and
unnaturally thin women that they assume these images are how a normal
woman should look. When you see such an image in a magazine, on a
billboard, in an advertisement, on a website, on TV, or in a movie, say
something out loud. Start a dialogue. Get people thinking about what
"normal" really is. Feeling energetic? Enlist a friend or daughter or
other young woman to draft a letter to the offender.