2011/06/09 in Health

“So I dropped a few pounds—what’s all the fuss about?”


You probably called because of all the hassling you’re getting from your family and friends. Well, maybe after listening you’ll see just how justified their concerns are. If you recognize yourself in this tape, it’s really important to get help now!

In our society there seems to be an overemphasis on being thin—“Thinness is rightness,” “You can never be too thin.” This message is drummed into our heads over and over again every time we open a magazine, see a model, or go to the movies. Even at home or among friends, we’re subjected to constant discussions about calories and diets. People seem to be saying as long as you’re thin, everything will go right. Well, this mania for thinness is taking its toll in a serious eating disorder called Anorexia Nervosa.

Simply put, anorexia is when you carry weight loss to a point where you seem to lose control. Its victims are obsessed with a never-ending battle to lose more and more weight until they become almost living skeletons.

Anorexia nervosa can happen to anyone at anytime but most often it affects teenage girls. They are typically high achieving, good girls from caring, supportive families. The one trait that they seem to share is that nothing they do is ever good enough. They want perfection and to be able to control their lives so everything will be perfect. As you know, perfection in this world is almost impossible; but in their minds, at least one part of their world will be perfectly controlled—their eating.

It’s not unusual for a girl to lose 25 to 30% of her body weight in a few months. Even though everyone else sees her as a walking skeleton, she looks in the mirror, and sees “fat.” So the drive for thinness continues.

The anorexic uses a lot of ways to hide her dieting from her family and friends. She’ll wear layers and layers of clothing to hide her thin frame. She’ll avoid being home at mealtimes; and when she is, she’ll just pick at her food, rearranging it on her plate so it looks like she’s eaten, and even pretend to eat only to slip the food into her napkin. If, out of sheer frustration, her folks force her to eat, she’ll do 100 sit ups or some other strenuous exercise routine to get rid of those calories.

Some anorexics go through a related but separate disorder called “Bulimia.” They’ll eat and then because they feel so guilty, will force themselves to vomit the food. Others will routinely take laxatives or diet pills.

You know, it’s really kind of funny; they’re completely preoccupied with food – looking at recipes, cooking gourmet meals for the rest of the family – and all the while denying their own hunger in the pursuit of thinness.

Self starvation is nothing to fool around with! It can cause severe problems as your body struggles to keep you alive. Your menstrual period will stop because your glands have quit producing hormones, your blood pressure will decrease, you’ll always feel cold because of the lowering of your body temperature, your hair will often fall out, your teeth may start to shale or decay, and lastly, when the malnutrition starts to ravage your body’s organs, it can kill you!

Not a pretty picture, but again, if you recognize yourself in this tape, it’s really important to get help right now. The treatment will consist of individual and group therapy, nutrition counseling and in severe cases, hospitalization.

The hospitalization will be used to help you regain your physical wellness. The individual psychological therapy often begins while there; and because many times the problem is a deep rooted one, your whole family will have to take part in the counseling.

We’ve just told you a little about Anorexia Nervosa with the hope that you can see how destructive this starvation can be. It’s true that our society puts a premium on thinness, but self-starvation is not the answer to all of life’s problems.

If you recognize several of these symptoms in yourself, Please Get Help!

1) A distorted body image

2) drastic weight loss

3) stopping of your menstrual period

4) excessive use of exercise, diet pills and laxatives

5) self-induced vomiting

6) general depression

7) a preoccupation with food.

Call your doctor or talk to a counselor by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.) They’ll refer you to an eating disorder clinic in your area. Eighty percent of anorexics do survive if helped—but early detection is vital. Remember, it can cause your death!


Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.