• Friday, April 11, 2008

    Never too skinny

    When I look at old paintings from way back in the day, it is apparent that the full figured woman was all the rage at the time judging by the myriad of the classic nudes, highlighting these women looking all self-confident and proudly displaying their poochy tummies hanging out . . . obviously feeling beautiful with an abundance of self-acceptance. It was the body style that was fashionable back in that time.

    Fast forward to modern times and the poochy tummies have been replaced by protruding bones and flat chests . . . the waif look that reminds me of death's doorstep. It is the body style that is fashionable in these times. But at what cost health wise? How about the emotional cost?

    Of course we know the health pitfalls of obesity, not to mention the stress and anxiety, the psychological effects associated with not "fitting in" with society as a result of those extra pounds. It is ironic that on this same earth, those confident ladies back in the day would be ridiculed on this same earth, however judged by a totally different society.

    In this day and age of the waif look, how skinny is skinny? How skinny is acceptable? How many extra pounds are deemed acceptable?

    I recently read in disbelief as one of the most beautiful women of our time, Lisa Marie Presley had to disclose her pregnancy prematurely to stop the ugly and vicious talk of her weight gain by the gossip mongers associating it with her father's downfall and untimely death. How cruel have we become as a society? She had to take a blessed time in her life that she wanted to remain private until she was ready to share it with the world and throw it in the face of the malicious wagging tongues to shut them up.

    As a person who has struggled with weight problems all of my life, going up and down the spectrum of obsessities with body types, weight perpetually going up and down . . . and feeling the changes of society's acceptance and attitude towards me, depending on my size, I've finally come to the place in my life where I accept myself as I am and no matter what size I am wearing . . . which still swings on the wild spectrum of a yo-yo out of control.

    My self-acceptance and self-confidence in my appearance comes from always trying to look the best I can and make the best of what I've got. I'm a great cook, love to enjoy those awesome meals that sometimes goes the way of comfort food, adding the pounds and then scaling back when it gets out of control. In my opinion, what matters is HOW I FEEL ABOUT MYSELF.

    There was a time in recent past where I was seeing a trend in the fashion industry that was making an attempt to switch the popularity of the equally unhealthy yet fashionable waif look to that of a more healthy look. Dare I hope that we can get back to the time where curves were deemed sexy, as in the time of Marilyn Monroe, one of the great beauties of our time?

    When I read the following article this morning at one of my favorite websites, Psychology Today, it got me thinking along these lines. Can't we get back to a happy medium that is healthy?

    Here is the article . . .

    It wasn't until a young dancer's body began to "fall apart" that she admitted she had anorexia. Should she have been forced into treatment years before, against her will? At least one study says yes.

    By: Rebecca Segall

    When malnutrition sent Sarah's body through menopause at age 25, her parents and ballet teachers became wrought with fear.

    Standing 5'3" and weighing only 95 pounds, Sarah was a magna cum laude Princeton University graduate and a professional ballerina. But despite her elite education, no doctor could convince her that eating was good for her, or that she had anorexia nervosa—an eating disorder that stems from a fear of gaining weight. And no one felt comfortable forcing her into treatment.

    "Nothing could prevent my will from controlling my body," Sarah says. Except her body itself. The same year she stopped menstruating, her brittle frame began to crumble beneath her. "My foot broke during a rehearsal. I was on crutches for almost a year. Eventually I had to have a screw inserted into my foot because my body couldn't heal on its own." Years after her body forced her into treatment, Sarah has retired from dancing and is healthy and eating again.

    "I'm glad my body fell apart, otherwise I would have refused treatment until I dropped dead," she says. Like Sarah, many people with eating disorders don't recognize that they have a problem and never seek help. But a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that more sufferers should be checked into hospitals, even against their will. Lead author Arnold E. Anderson, Ph.D., a psychiatry professor at the University of Iowa College of Medicine, examined 397 eating disordered patients, 66 of whom were admitted involuntarily. Surprisingly, his results showed that those patients admitted against their will responded to treatment as well as those admitted voluntarily.

    Eating disorders like anorexia have traditionally been attributed to environmental cues: rigid beauty standards, strict homes, rigorous sports and competition. Scientific evidence that they commonly run in families has only reinforced this view. But another report in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that a genetic trait may actually be the source of such disorders.

    In this study, researchers at the Eating Disorders Program of New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City examined the relationship between anorexia nervosa and the personality trait of perfectionism. Led by Katherine Halmi, Ph.D., the team examined 322 women with a family history of the eating disorder and found that the extent of the victims' perfectionism was directly associated with the severity of their anorexia nervosa. The researchers believe that anorexia may be linked to the family of genes associated with serotonin, a neurotransmitter connected to mood. They're now planning to analyze the study participants' DNA for patterns that are similar in anorexic family members, but different in those without eating disorders—a goal that may ultimately help to improve treatment for the disorder.

    These findings may hit close to home for people like Sarah, whose own sister is also a recovering anorexic. But she warns not to overlook the roles of others who contribute to the illness. "Parties involved should be focusing on how they do contribute to the problem rather than how they don't," Sarah advises.

    Psychology Today Magazine, Mar/Apr 2001
    Last Reviewed 8 Apr 2008
    Article ID: 22

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