We usually hear about the tragic increase of anorexia in teens, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teenagers often misunderstand the eating disorder as they are afraid of getting the treatment.
In this article, you’ll read:
- Reasons behind anorexia in teens
- What is fatphobia?
- Tips on preventing fat-shaming
The Truth Behind Anorexia in Teens and Youth
People who suffer from eating disorders are primarily young. Additionally, most of them are teens and women. They usually keep it a secret until the habit becomes deeply embedded and difficult to root out.
Eating disorders are stubborn as it is challenging to treat. Anorexia, in particular, is difficult to treat. It has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder in adolescence, which means a greater understanding of the condition is essential.
At present, only 46% of people diagnosed with anorexia go on to make a full recovery. Meanwhile, 40% of those who suffer from the disorder, struggle with treatments and therapy.
Teens Keep Their Eating Disorders a Secret
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Some parents describe their anorexic teen as “evasive” or “full of normal-sounding excuses” for refusing to eat meals. Aside from that, they even label them “devious” to avoid being weighed during regular checkups. Because of this, some teens are ashamed after hearing such words from their parents.
Meanwhile, experts don’t believe that humiliation explains the secrecy of adolescents. Upon observing teens in the last few years, they think that “shame” is not a helpful explanation for hiding their eating disorder.
Pressure from parents often makes teens and children feel suffocated and stressed. Some also tend to be so health-conscious that they want their kids to be like them. Because of this, teens who suffer from anorexia and bulimia often say this statement in effect,
“What you call my eating disorder is not really a problem, but a solution to my problem.”
With that said, they find recovery from their disorder as a threat instead of a desirable outcome.
How Teens View Anorexia
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For most teens, the term “anorexia” means “without appetite.” Those who are experiencing this start with a habit of suppressing their hunger. Additionally, they build the habit of refusing to eat because they find feel proud after resisting food.
Some adolescents consider their self-imposed starvation as “a strength.” Hunger gave them a “high” because it demonstrated the power of her will.
Along with this, teens who suffer from bulimia think of it as “a way of beating the system.” Those who built up the disorder often started with a habit of purging their food. They are also usually influenced by their “strong” peers who forcibly vomit what they eat to stop digestion. Adolescents who do this believe their harmful act prevents them from getting fat.
Those who suffer from bulimia start by binge eating followed by purging. Some use objects to force food out of their throat but others use laxatives.
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia are tragically common among adolescents or teens. For them, this development period is a time for acute self-consciousness. They become more sensitive to how other people see them. Sometimes, they feel like they are being judged by people which triggers eating disorders.
What is Fatphobia?
Fatphobia is a pathological fear of fatness. It is only one aspect of insidious cultural ideas about female beauty and desirability. Those who suffer from this phobia often fat-shame others who look larger than them.
It is also described to be the fear and hatred of fat bodies. According to Mary Himmelstein, PhD, an assistant professor at Kent State University who studies how weight stigma affects people’s health,
Fatphobia “perpetuates those negative stereotypes, leading to discrimination against people with higher body weight.”
It is a form of bigotry. A form of discrimination saying people of higher weight are inferior physically, intellectually, morally, and health-wise.
Teens quickly internalise fatphobia as they focus on how others see them. It resonates with the notion that girls should be without their own appetites. They believe that restraint and self-denial are their purviews and that they are entitled to less physical and social space.
7 Tips on How to Fight Fatphobia
To stop your and other teens with anorexia or bulimia, the change has to start with you– the parent. Here are a few things that you can do to fight fatphobia or fat-shaming:
Talking about weights and their diets may hurt or harm other people. It does not just affect people who have bigger bodies but also those who have eating disorders. Keep in mind that weight talk can be triggering.
Don’t comment on people’s bodies
Whether positive or negative, commenting on other people’s bodies is inappropriate. Continuing to do so might influence your kids to bully others about their appearance.
Keep unsolicited “health” advice to yourself
You may know someone’s body size, but you also know nothing about their health. Keep in mind that someone’s health is not up for discussion unless they’re close to you.
It is essential to set personal boundaries. Consider offering help or calling out those who cause harm to people with fatphobia.
Don’t assume that fat people are failed, thin people
Having extra weight is not a deviation from a natural and normal figure. As mentioned earlier, we don’t know about a person’s health or condition from the get-go. It’s always best to keep your opinions to yourself to stop such cruel thoughts on those with larger bodies.
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