Eating disorders

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To what extend does society contribute to eating disorders
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Arthur Vincent April 16, 2010
Jessica Lorenzo

Presentation Report

Sociology Spring 2010

Eating disorder is a situation where human eating behaviour is abnormal, which results in an excessive, insufficient or irregular food intake. It is a psychologicaldisease that affects mostly inhabitants of industrialized countries, mostly women but men are starting to suffer from it increasingly. This has become an important preoccupation for scientists and doctors because, the cause of Eating Disorders are complex and multiple. Nevertheless, two major causes can be defined. The first cause for eating disorder is that this habit results from emotionaltrauma, which most of the time has appeared during childhood, a feeling of rejection because of physical appearance in young children for example. The second major cause for eating disorder appears during Piaget’s Formal Operational Stage, especially adolescence. During this period a lot of body characteristics are changing and the need for the adolescent to build an identity inside the society is thefirst preoccupation. In order to build an identity inside the society with the actors of this society that is constantly moving and where the image and the physical appearance seem to be essential; the adolescent will reflect his own image in people around him (friends, family etc…) but sometimes they are rules by the idea of perfection lead by the media. Unfortunately the consequences of eatingdisorders can be disastrous, because people who suffer from this disease are stuck in a vicious circle where their body is the first preoccupation and everything around has no importance. Sometimes diseases like Anorexia or Bulimia can lead to death due to under-nutrition and psychological depression. It seems that industrialized society has an important responsibility in this health problem. As amatter of fact it seems that society is responsible for that in two major points. The first point is that nowadays, knowing the power the media has on us and how it transmits an idea of what we should look it is clearly understandable that for an adolescent who is trying to find his identity this influence can be disastrous. The second point that shows how society can be responsible for eatingdisorders is the pressure imposed by capitalism and the obligation of following the model which consist in “growing up and getting a job to make money”. It can lead to losing self control and fall into a certain type of psychological depression where food is the only remedy to cure the problem.

Nowadays we are confronted to a constant pressure facing weight and physical appearance which iseven more important in the higher classes. This image is promoted and intensified by the media. The fact of being thin and pretty is defined as an exterior sign of success and happiness. Indeed today being thin means that you are pretty, that you are strong, that you have strong will and that you are healthy. This phenomenon is reflected in the growing success of cosmetic surgery which shows aself-preoccupation tendency. The idea of being attractive is necessarily linked to being thin and it is widely spread. We can observe this tendency through the increasing sales of “sliming creams”, flat stomach capsules, various types of diets, low fat products and use of cosmetic surgery. This phenomenon has partly developed because of the important number of skinny models who’s image we are confrontedto everyday because of the media. Models appear thinner and thinner and it is also very often the case of celebrities. For an important sample of the population they are icons and models we should look up to and try to resemble. Also we can observe that each month, in every woman’s magazine, there will be an article about diets. This topic is omnipresent, especially before summer, stating how...
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