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Christy Henrich, a world class gymnast was told that she would have to lose weight to make the 1988 Olympic team. She was 4'10" and weighed 90 pounds. She died of multiple organ failure due to anorexia in 1994. Lea Thompson (Caroline in the City) was rejected by a ballet company because she was too 'stocky' at 5'5" and 96 lbs. "According to an article by Judith Newman in Redbook, young girls today are more afraid of becoming fat than are of nuclear war, cancer, or losing their parents." 1
Society's pressure to be beautiful has an immense effect on a young person.
Girls are aware of what "pretty" means before they enter kindergarten and quickly discover where they stand in relation to the other girls. As a girl moves through elementary grades she will discover, if she is deemed "pretty," that boys pay more attention to her, she is more easily accepted, thought to be smarter, and her teachers are nicer to her.
As she moves into teenage years, she may find that thinness is a requirement for acceptance and especially so for some activities, especially sports.
Eating disorders may begin during stressful times such as: puberty, a change of schools, divorce, a breakup of a relationship, or family problems. Often it starts as a diet that goes out of control.
The disorder serves a purpose, it is an effort to cope and communicate. It is a problem and an attempted solution at the same time.
Perfectionism leads to unrealistic expectations and is the major root cause of eating disorders.
The extreme definitions by which they measure themselves assures failure leading to feelings of worthlessness and inadequacy. Each unrealistic expectation is a false believe and in counseling can be corrected by demonstrating its irrational and illogical aspects.
One false believe is that "I must be perfect to be loved." Scripture is overflowing with accounts of God working through imperfect humans. God's love is not based on performance or goodness rather in spite of our sins and imperfections (Eph. 2:9; Isa. 64:6).
Eating disorders are addictive disorders and the behavior is driven by the addictive cycle: need for love; pain of low self-
The longer the cycle continues, the more damage is done and the more firmly the illness is entrenched.
Eating disorders manifest physically as a "preoccupation with one's body, weight and eating; profound dread of obesity; distorted body image; malnutrition; little interest in or aversion to sex; cessation of menses; irritability, depression, and inability to concentrate; dehydration; faintness; and slow heart beat"3
Eating disorders manifest emotionally in perfectionism, low self-
~ In Christ, Dr. Kim West
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