As I’ve interviewed different girls and worked in different centers, I haven’t found many girls who wake up and decide to destroy their body one day. There are other issues always at the door which seem to place a huge emphasis on the disordered behavior.
I won’t discount body image as being part of the problem with eating disorders because I fully understand that it is a HUGE problem. Here are some stats to help us understand the significance:
- 54% of women reported rather being hit by a truck than be fat.
- 81% of ten year olds are afraid of being fat.
- 67% of women withdraw from regular life activities because self conscious about weight.
However, I don’t think it’s the only issue, and I actually feel as if there are larger sharks lurking in the water of eating disorder territory. Perfectionism and control have a substantial effect upon many young girls and young adults and these tendencies have a GIANT correlation with eating disorders.
In the book, “Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, Courtney Martin talks about how the desire for perfection is destroying young girls around the country. She writes about girls vulnerable to these disorders,
“We are the captains of the basketball teams, soccer stars, swimming state champs with boxes full of blue ribbons. We win scholarship galore, science fairs and knowledge bowls, spelling bees, and mock trial debates. We are the girls with..five year plans. We take ourselves very, very seriously. We are peacemakers, do gooders, the givers, and the savers. We are on time, overly prepared, well read, and witty….we are living contradictions….We pride ourselves on getting as little sleep as possible and thrive on self deprivation. We are relentless, judgmental to ourselves, forgiving to others. We carry the world of guilt–center of families, keeper of relationships, caretaker of friends….We must be perfect and must make it look effortless.”
This book is full of insight, but this paragraph is right on. So what is it about these personalities which can lead to devastating addictions? Great question…there isn’t a specific answer, but tons of speculation. Just reading this paragraph stressed me out, so can you imagine the intense stress every day must provide to these girls.
So after I tell people this, I always hear the question, “Why do they worry about it, can’t they just let go?” WELL, the question in itself should reveal the answer. Letting go would be giving up control. Can you imagine if every day you had a check list that long to appreciate who you are as a person? What if you felt as though no one would ever like you if you didn’t complete this list? In a separate book, it tells the story of Shannon who owned these feelings and developed a severe case of anorexia. She said she did not think any one would like her if she didn’t complete the checklist of perfectionism. This checklist becomes an identity and if any of it slips off the list, well, there goes who you are and you must claim something else. Perfect timing for an eating disorder. Finally, an area that is completely controllable and maintainable, right? Well, we may see the logical fallacies, but this behavior is too addicting to see through it.