"You can't be too thin or too rich." This modern – somewhat cynical – proverb says a lot about our culture. It is an attitude that sells millions of magazines and diet books, sends many people to diet doctors and diet programs and puts thousands of people on exercise regimens...whatever is necessary to get or stay thin.
This attitude is evident in our culture's choice of role models and heroes, many of whom are featured diet stories in popular magazines. The magazines at the supermarket checkout counter inform about "The Celebrity-Eat-Everything-and Stay-Slim-Diet," and more.
Very slim people model clothing. Magazines describe fashion models and their eating habits – some models subsisting on a salad a day and lots of ice cubes to keep their pencil-thin figures.
Our culture says, "Thin is beautiful. Thin is smart. Thin is in. Be thin." Thousands of impressionable young people – mostly young women – decide to do just that. They diet and exercise to attain this ideally thin body. Generally, they stay within reason, but not always.
Usually, the brightest and most agreeable children are the ones who decide not just to be thin but also to be the best at being thin, and it becomes an obsession, a disease known as "Anorexia Nervosa."
An Anorexic stops seeing her own body objectively. She – usually "she because 90% to 95% of anorexics are female – sees only a fat, imperfect self even in the face of the near-skeleton that stares back at her from the mirror. Fat is bad. She will not be bad.
This fierce dedication to starvation is, to the victim, the height of virtue. To the parents, siblings, teachers, school counselors and friends, it is terrifying. They see the child or young woman so obsessed that she rarely eats. She vigorously exercises for hours. She agonizes over eating small amounts of food. She looks gaunt and emaciated.
Family members are right to be concerned. This disease – and disease it is – can be fatal if not arrested in time, which is the purpose of this publication. We write it in the hope that parents, families, friends, school officials and teachers will learn the signs of anorexia and guide its victims to arrest it in time. We hope that, with the facts, you will be able to ignore the false reassurances of people with anorexia – "Everything is under control." Since anorexia can lead to serious complications, even death, the lives of many young people can depend on this knowledge and understanding.
The good news is that early detection and treatment usually achieve a full recovery, though it may take some time for the person with anorexia complete recovery, physically and psychologically.