Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Too Thin Lands You In The Sin Bin...


A new law being proposed in France is being aimed at curbing the promotion of anorexia as a lifestyle choice.

Fines of up to €30,000 (£24,000) and a two-year prison sentence will be imposed on offenders who “provoke a person to seek excessive thinness by encouraging prolonged restriction of nourishment” to the point of risking death or damage to health. The prison term is raised to three years with a €45,000 fine if the person dies.

I had been trying to think of a way to say something humorous here, but there really isn't anything funny about this topic. The "waif" thing has gotten completely out of hand, and can be easily described as terrifying. What absolutely confounds me is that since the first high-profile case of anorexia - Karen Carpenter - we have not been able to stem the tide of young women being drawn to this highly self-destructive condition. No, it seems that since Carpenter's death 25 years ago, the rush of young women trying to starve themselves to achieve the ultimate ghostly look has only accelerated. Today, it is estimated that 1 in 200 women suffer from anorexia. 95% of those who suffer from the disorder is between the ages of 13 and 25 years of age. 80% of girls 13 years of age have tried to lose weight.

If you're the parent of a young girl as I am, these numbers should scare the Dickens out of you. In fact, the mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the cause of death of all causes of death of 15-24-year-old. The really sad thing is that the profile of the typical anorexic is someone you'd never think would have a problem. A middle-class or upper-class teenager around 15 years old, intelligent, perfectionistic, and a very high achiever, she's usually thin but obsessed with her weight anyway. Look for compulsive exercising and a preoccupation with calorie counting and diets, even though she turns down food.  To hide her condition, she might lie, hiding uneaten food or Saying she's already eaten. And of course, there will be a denial that anything is wrong.

Think you might know someone who needs help? Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Marked weight loss
  • Amenorrhea , or the loss of menstrual periods
  • Fear of getting fat, even when underweight
  • Denial of hunger, accompanied by an obsession with counting calories or studying cookbooks
  • Excessive exercise
  • Frequent weighing
  • Distorted body image
  • Hyperactivity
  • Constipation
  • Dry, sallow (yellowish) skin
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Fatigue or chronic insomnia
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Thinning hair
  • The growth of fine body hair, especially on the arms and legs
  • Fainting spells
  • There's lots of information out there. If you want to educate yourself more on this serious health threat, check out the links below -

    National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)

    National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

    Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. (ANRED)

    As for the law proposed, I don't see that it will help much. Punishing websites for publishing images won't stop girls from obsessing on their weight. Face it, it's not just TV, film or magazines. How many girls have moms who are getting implants, Botox, tummy tucks and other cosmetic procedures just to combat natural aging, to try to fool those around them about their age? What kind of lesson should girls learn from this? Their own parents can't accept the natural beauty of a woman aging, and instead they see a role model striving to achieve a "perfect" goal. The problem with that perfection is that it does not reflect reality.

    When we atop idealizing the "Barbie" body, stop falling for fad diets that don't work, stop buying all the gadgets,gizmos, and quick fix diet pills to "lose those nagging 10 pounds", we might have a shot at convincing young women that they don't need to starve to death.

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