Is an Eating Disorder Eating You?

No, I don't keep my Pilates equipment in the middle of my living room!!! My daughter set this up for lighting purposes when she took this photo-shoot.

But that's not the subject of this article.

As as matter of fact, the pic has nothing to do with the subject, but this is a Pilates site, isn't it?!
The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) will be doing their annual awareness week in just a few days (Feb. 22-28). I was already working on the following article when I realized this event was just around our corner. Please take note and consider being a part of this purposeful event.

What's Up With JS? Her Weight?
Recently Jessica Simpson hit the headlines with a big splash. Pardon the pun. The focus being her weight gain. Of course, for those of us here in TX, our first thoughts were Tony did it to her. She's pregnant? As you may know, Dallas Cowboy fans are not JS fans. But then you know, she is a Texas born belle, and we do grow everything bigger here.

What stole my attention was not so much the extra curves she grew, what seemed like overnight, but how the media described the new look. "Well, she used to be a size 2 when she did that music video." "She's always had a weight issue." "She was thought to have had anorexia at one time." "She should be allowed to gain a little weight."

But the one that tugged at me was, "She's definitely heavier, at a size 8." (Entertainment Tonight)

Hmmmmm. How many of you have ever been a size 8? How many wish they were back to a size 8 or that could just be a size 8?

Do you know that the average size clothing the American woman wears? Fourteen. Yes, size 14. And the average woman is 163 pounds and 5' 3.8". (National Center for Health Statistics) So what is the problem with a size 8?

Oh, I forgot, our ideal is to look like the top models? Hmmmm, if that's the case, I'm trying to figure with so few of them, why are the few in charge of how the many look? After all there are only about ten "top" models? And that's world wide.

The average runway model is estimated to be 5 feet 9 inches tall and to weigh in at 110 lbs.-- resulting in a BMI of just 16, according to the British newspaper the Evening Standard.

Why's that important to note? For certain, the average female height is NOT 5'9". And most women are NOT 110 lbs at even 5'4". So think about it, a gal at 5'9 is going to look totally different in a size 8 than a gal at 5'4.

Which by the way, J.S. is only supposed to be about 5'3"-5'4". A size 8 on her body? That's not bad! I do have to note that now it's being said that she is really more like a size 12. But even then, she's still looking good. Don't you think? I mean, she's not 22 anymore. She's nearing 30.

Who Am I In The Height of Things?
I'm 5'8 in my bare tootsies. My average weight, as a medium framed person, is around 125, which is underweight according to the charts.

No, I've never had an eating disorder or weight issue to speak of. Though I will say, when I am extremely stressed, food is the first thing I abandon. And, yes, I have weighed more and less as an adult. I've been down to 112 lbs, and I looked like you know what warmed over. And I've weighed as much as 135. The most I've ever weighed was in my pregnancies: about 142 pounds. And I lost the weight immediately upon birthing those 10 lb babies. Yes, I said TEN POUNDS of human flesh!!! That's another delightful item in my genetic code.

Yes, I have a high metabolism. I recall a sis-in-law, who is about 5'2" saying to me once, "Ellen, I just "look" at the food you eat, and I gain weight!" So am I fortunate to have been given this DNA? Sure. Do I ever feel a little guilty? I could. Does it mean I don't have any health problems? Not hardly.

So while I don't claim to be a spokesperson for NEDA, I have had family members, friends, and clients who have suffered with an eating disorder. I do understand the damage. Just because I have not suffered on that level doesn't make me insensitive to the issue. I've seen first hand the devastation E.D.'s have on our society. I've seen the pain behind the eyes of these precious people.

The Lack of Care Hopefully Changing in our Nation
I was on the front end of our society not knowing how to deal with E.D.s. There was a day when the professional medical field used to send these gals to mental institutions to be helped.

I recall one clinical I had for psychology; it was in a mental institution, as they called it back then. I'll never forget the young lady, Kelly, thrown into a room with struggling people with severe mental challenges. Severe. One man had a lobotomy, and we never knew when he was going to show up in "flash-mode". Another man insisting that he was Adam and I was Eve, and we needed to propagate the world. There was Jack, who was suffering with catatonic episodes. Then, Keith, who became my protector from all the insanity, for a lack of a better word. He was schizophrenic. Yet, strangely enough, he won my heart, and to this day still remains.

My point is, Kelly's problems were not effectively being addressed. Yet, she was clearly steps away from her last breath. She shared her concerns about how she was going to be helped when not even the professionals had a clue. I've often wondered what happened to her.

The good news is, that was then, this is now. And thankfully, changes have been made in the medical field concerning this subject. I only hope Kelly lived to see them and be helped.

Is This What We Call Evolution?
So, yes, we've made headway in the world of psychology and medicine, but the media continues to drag us deeper into sickness.

We are supposed to be more intelligent than our predecessors, aren't we? What happened to wisdom with our health? We are certainly not progressing in that field. Look at the "role" models from decades ago. They were much "healthier" looking. Note, Marilyn Monroe, the most glamorous woman ever, according to many. She was a size 12-14 and envied among women around the world, with men lusting heavily in their dreams.

Indeed we've lost a lot since Marilyn's day. And I don't mean just weight. We've lost all sense of reasoning. We've lost lives. Lives of women who "thought" they had to be a certain size in order to be accepted.

Then there are those who have survived, but have strolled over to the eating disorder side of life. Which happens to be a #1 issue among teen age girls.

Too, E.D.s have been an astronomical issue with celebrities, as well as models. clk here for a list

An American Idol Example:
Paula Abdul: Dancer, choreographer and singer Paula Abdul (American Idol Judge) battled bulimia and decided to check herself in a clinic, back in 1994. Her negative feelings about her own body image came as early as seven years old when she began dancing, but "it didn't manifest into a full-blown eating disorder until I was in high school."

Today Paula Abdul is a spokesperson for the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). Paula courageously speaks out about her own past battles, in hopes of encouraging young women to take the scary, but necessary, steps to seek help. "It is one of the toughest things to talk about, bar none, and it is one of the hardest disorders to deal with because it's not black or white. Eating disorders really have nothing to do with food, it's about feelings." (EDREFERRAL)

But what about the everyday gal or guy? Who represents just an ordinary life? You pass her or him on the street and often never know the difference. You talk to them, you sleep with them, you play with them, work with them, and or you may be "them".

What Can We Do?
  • For one thing, make ourselves aware of this dilemma. In our own lives and in the lives of those we love.
  • Learn the signs.
  • Learn the ways to defeat the illness.
  • Speak out and save lives.
  • Teach our children: girls AND boys.
  • Make health a goal, not size.
  • Look at what is healthy for the particular person: height, build, DNA.
  • Don't make food an issue.
  • Don't use food as a form of discipline with our children.
  • Don't use food to medicate our children. Or ourselves.
  • Get help if we are struggling with weight issues of the mind.
  • Be a good example to our children; don't live by dying to be thin.
  • Children are watching us! WE should be their role models, not the media!
  • Take responsibility!
National Eating Disorder Awareness Week Is Coming Up:
NEDAwareness Week 2009: February 22-28

Some are wanting to enforce certain codes with the weight and body mass of the person modeling. Some agree with it while others oppose.

But modeling, says Katrina Szish, "is one of those professions, like being a marathon runner, or a jockey, or a ballet dancer where you do need to have an extreme, somewhat unnatural, physique in order to be successful." (contributing ABC fashion correspondent)

"Models don't sign up because they want to be examples," she said. "They're hired to be coat hangers for designers ... props for the collection." (Szish)

Richard Pesikoff, clinical professor of psychology, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston believes the ban is an "excellent idea," and a "first step to re-formulate the attitudes that the fashion industry has toward weight and body image."

What do "you" think?????

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