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To Eat or Not to Eat
By: Caitlin M., Oakwood High, Toronto, ON

To eat... or not to eat Why over 85,000 women in North America chose not to.

Females everywhere hit puberty at some point or another, there's no stopping it. Their bodies start to change and slowly, or quickly, develop into more of a womanly shape. For some teens, this change is fast, easy, and normal but for others, it is the most stressful and awkward experience of their lives. In their early teens, females are coping with not only the changes in their body, but the pressures and views of society as well. Constantly bombarded with the media's portrayal of women, they try to fit in with the females they see by wearing make-up, revealing clothes, or by trying to lose a couple inches from the waist.

CalistaTo get this 'great' figure that so many young women desire, they usually start off with a diet to get them 'in shape'.

They'll try to eat less fatty foods and will probably exercise now and then. In an attempt to lose weight, they will also try to burn off as many calories as possible. Eventually, however, some people overwork their bodies and don't give them as much food as needed. When young women stop eating as much as their bodies need, they are considered anorexic.

At a time when the problem is full blown like this, there are many different problems that arise. Teens not only stop eating, they start to feel fat, ugly, depressed and their minds keep convincing them to lose more and more weight until it reaches a very dangerous point. Once they're convinced that they are going to lose a few inches here and there, they will stick with their plan, and it is hard, if not impossible, to get them to change their minds and eating habits. Over half of the women who are anorexic or bulimic end up dead at a very early age. This is not a pleasant fact, but it's the truth. Women who don't get enough nourishment start to thin out and their bones start to weaken making them frail and easy to fracture. Lack of food also affects many other parts of the body and it can get as bad as brain damage, or even death.

The main causes of this fatal problem arise from many different sources. Young women are the main targets, however, because they are under a lot of pressure. Pressure to look good, pressure to achieve, and pressure to be a woman. While stress is the main cause of this disease, other issues are quite problematic as well. Anorexia, believe it or not, can also be caused by genetics. If someone in a young women's family is anorexic or bulimic, it is more common that the young women will have an eating disorder as well. The society's view and the media play an even bigger role, though, as this is the image that women are trying to live up to.

We take a look at our surroundings and it's no wonder why young women are starving themselves these days. Our role models are celebrities like Britney Spears, Calista Flockhart and Gwyneth Paltrow all of who have ten-inch waistlines. Britney Spears They are considered 'sexy' and 'beautiful' because of their bodies and the way they look. One of the problems with the media is that they never make bigger women 'sex symbols' or even love interests in most of the shows and movies that we watch. There's never an emphasis on 'bigger is beautiful' and all we're bombarded with are big chests, flat tummies, and miniature waistlines.

The truth is, however, that not many people in today's society really look like these super-thin women anyways. We were all created a different way for a reason. If we all looked thin, like the women we see on TV, our society would be so boring.

All that should matter, is that people are healthy and they have a good lifestyle. We should stop comparing everyone else and look at each other for who we really are.

Media Awareness Website

National Eating Disorder Screening Program

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