Anorexia nervosa (1978- ), called anorexia for short, is where someone eats less and less to get thinner and thinner, but no matter how thin she gets (it is almost always a she) she still thinks she is fat! It mainly affects girls from ages 12 to 25. Most come from well-to-do families.
After about age 12 most girls in America and Britain think they are fat and try to lose weight. Anorexia starts out that way too but then it loses all sense and reason: as the girl loses more weight she fears gaining weight even more! No matter how thin she gets she still thinks she is fat! Nothing her mother or her friends or her doctor say will make her think otherwise. She has gone partly mad.
It is no laughing matter: tens of thousands of girls die of it every year in America. Since you cannot talk sense into them many get thinner and thinner till they die.
How to tell if you are anorexic:
- Are you fat?
- Was your last period more than three months ago?
- Does your weight fall below these sort of numbers:
- 1.60 metres: 45 kg
- 1.70 metres: 51 kg
- 1.80 metres: 57 kg
- 5 foot: 90 lbs
- 5 foot 6: 108 lbs
- 6 foot: 129 lbs
If you answered “yes” to at least two of these questions then there is a good chance you are anorexic. See your doctor to be sure.
Some anorexics cut up their food into small pieces and move them about on their plate so you think they are eating. They lose interest in boys. Some wear too many layers of clothing because they lack the body fat and ongoing digestion that keeps most of us warm. Their skin becomes dry and their hair starts to fall out. Even their hearts get smaller!
Those with bulimia nervosa also try to lose weight by not eating, but then they get so hungry they pig out. Shame and guilt set in so they make themselves throw up. Since they never get thin this can go on for years and years. It is dangerous too: the body is not designed to throw up after every meal. Do it too often and your heart will run out of the potassium it needs to work.
No one knows what causes anorexia. Most anorexics do not feel good about themselves unless they are “perfect” – maybe because their parents only loved them when they were good. Perfect can mean perfect scores at school or in sports, but it can also mean having a perfect body. In America since the middle 1970s a perfect body means one that is as thin as possible.
They try to look like the thin, beautiful women of Hollywood and fashion magazines. But most girls can never be that thin no matter how much weight they lose. It is a fight against nature they can never win.