The flip side of teenagers: Facing eating disorders

Dakota Phillips ‘15
News Editior

 

Eating disorders affect many more people than one might suspect. Over 50 percent of teenage girls and 33 percent of teenage boys use unhealthy eating behaviors to control their weight, according to Eatingdisorderhope.com.
An eating disorder is a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal eating habits. People who have an eating disorder see themselves as imperfect. For example, a girl can be very thin, but when she looks in the mirror, she may see someone extremely overweight.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, but it can be genetic. People who are related to someone with an eating disorder are more likely to develop one. Stress and anxiety add to the buildup of an eating disorder, along with psychological factors. People with eating disorders have unrealistic expectations of themselves pertaining to all aspects of their lives. Some people use it as a gateway to have control over something. If they can control what they eat or do not eat, they tend to feel more powerful and in control of themselves. Mainly, it depends on someone’s personality type. Having an eating disorder is not something someone chooses; it just depends on all the factors and pressures in their life.
Dealing with eating disorders is not something to be taken lightly. People with eating disorders have a serious illness that needs attention. Watching a loved one damage his or her health is heartbreaking. Restricting food, dieting, binging, purging, distorted body image and an altered appearance may be warning signs of eating disorders.
If you notice a warning sign in someone you care about, it is best to address it. It may be difficult to bring up such a touchy subject, but in the long run, it is better that you bring it up, just in case something is seriously wrong with them. Some people with eating disorders are longing for help, but they just do not know how to get it. When talking to someone about a possible eating disorder, do not comment on their weight or make them feel shameful of what they are doing to themselves. Also, do not try and give simple advice if you are not fully educated on the severity of eating disorders. The best thing is to let them know you care about getting them back on track to living a healthy lifestyle, says advice from helpguide.org.
Frances Bontumasi, counselor, has had to help teens who struggle with eating issues.
Bontumasi said, “What they see is what they see. We try to bring them back to reality of what they look like.”
Helpguide.org also states that it is not an easy task for adults to convince teens of something opposite of what they are set on believing. At first, someone with an eating disorder will most likely react with anger or with defensiveness toward treatment. As time progresses, it will get easier for them to accept the fact that they truly do need help.
Although a person may seek help for an eating disorder, does not mean the person is fully cured. It just means they have learned how to control it and get back on track to eating at a regular style. It is something they will have to deal with for life, but they can return to living a normal, happy and healthy lifestyle.
Twenty-year-old popstar Demi Lovato has become very vocal about her past struggle with eating disorders over the last few years. In an interview with ABC Nightline News, Lovato shared that at a young age she developed bulimia, anorexia, and also took to self harm as an outlet. Her eating disorders stemmed from being bullied when she was in school. She said she did not understand why other kids were being so vicious to her, and they would respond saying it was simply just because she was “fat.” She carried her eating disorders with her throughout her teen years. Growing up in the spotlight was never easy. She went on to become a very popular Disney Channel star. Lovato felt a lot of pressure to be Hollywood’s idea of perfect. At her lowest point, she entered rehab. In 2010 she said she got the help she needed, because she knew she could not do it on her own. Today, she is selling albums and topping charts with her music. She is also a judge on “The X Factor,” as well as a cast member on the newest season of “Glee.”
Coming out of treatment and not relapsing has made her very strong. According to Dailymail.uk.com, Lovato took offense when Disney made a joke about eating disorders on its series “Shake It Up.” Lovato tweeted, “I find it really funny how a company can lose one of their actresses from the pressures of an EATING DISORDER and yet still make jokes about it…”
She feels the need to share her story with her fans so they do not go down the same path she did. She has now become comfortable with her body. She is not dangerously thin, and she is fine with it. She just focuses on being healthy.
Lovato has become a huge inspiration to teens across the globe who struggle with bullying, self-harm, and eating disorders. She uses her music and story to inspire teens to become warriors against eating disorders, Lovato stated in an interview with “The Katie Show.” She knows how hard it is for teens that struggle with self-image issues. Many young fans even say Lovato has saved lives. Hearing those words from her fans is what motivates her to want to share her story and raise awareness about eating healthy. Lovato is a great example that even though eating disorders may get the best of a person, they can be fought and not be life ruling.
Eating disorders can affect many young people in today’s society. Knowing how to deal with them and help people that struggle with them is something very important. Never take them lightly, because it may be regretted in the long run.