Many teen girls suffer with anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder in which girls use starvation diets to try to lose weight. They starve themselves down to skeletal thinness yet still think that they are overweight. Bulimia, meanwhile, is a disorder in which young women binge on food and then force themselves to vomit. They also often use laxatives to get food out of their system. All of these young women who suffer from this problem are considered to suffer from a psychiatric disorder. While the causes are debatable, one thing that is clear is that these young women have a distorted body image. It is a very serious issue when someone's body shape is determined by genetic disposition and yet they try to alter it to fit some kind of imaginary ideal of how a person should look.
One of the most serious problems is that female nature is not what society says it should be. Some researchers theorize that anorexia is a young woman's way of canceling puberty. Since they lack body fat, anorexics don't get their periods and often lose their sexual characteristics such as public hair. They remain, in other words, little girls. There is also the complex issue of women feeling that by having an eating disorder they are finally in control of something in their life. This may sound strange, but much research has shown that women who have been abused or neglected in their childhoods develop these problems of control. (http://www.anred.com/medpsy.html).
Studies suggest that eating disorders often begin in the transition from being a kid to puberty. They are directly connected to pubertal maturation and the increases in body fat that occurs during this phase. These biological changes are associated with increased dieting and unhealthy behaviors in early adolescence. This problem is aggravated by various problems, including negative body image, which links with weight, perfectionism and depression. Family and socialization also play significant roles.. Families with adolescents who have eating disorders are also often characterized by overprotectiveness, rigidity and lack of conflict resolution. Interestingly enough, girls who are more involved in mixed-sex social activities and dating boys are also more likely to exhibit disordered eating tendencies. (http://www.health.uottawa.ca/hkgrad/mllab/eatdisfg.html).
Thus, eating disorders must be studied in the context of what certain individuals face during their developmental stage, or what they may have suffered in childhood. In general, a combination of the pubertal phase of the female body, the loosening of the individual's ties to parents, and the development of a stable and cohesive personality structure play impacting roles in this process. Families that set high standards for achievement, gave little support for self-direction, and blurred interpersonal boundaries left adolescent girls with deficits in their self-esteem. (http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/n71.asp)It makes sense in a very complex way that young girls who have been abused in this way end up "controlling" things that are ultimately not good for them. For instance, a young girl who was made to feel powerless in some ways in her family (ex. sexual or physical abuse) may end up feeling a sense of individual identity if she can "control", for example, when she vomits and when she does not. Now, at least, she can have control over something in her life.
Personality factors were also found to contribute to the development of eating disorders. Characteristics such as perfectionist striving, feelings of ineffectiveness, and depressive...