R T I C L E S* &*
S P E E C H E S
following is an article that appeared in
Volume 3, Issue 4
Disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, and
These conditions affect thousands of teen
and young adult women. They are serious
emotional disorders that can threaten your
self-esteem, your relationships, your health
and even your life.
QUEENS IN SIZE TWO JEANS
Teen Voices, I am sending this poem
for Teen Voices as it deals with eating
disorders/body image - an issue of great concern
among teenagers these days. I am a graduate
student in a program called Creative Arts
in Learning. My focus is giving voice to issues
through poetry, movement, the visual arts
and storytelling. Creative expression has
helped me through my recovery from an eating
Queens In Size Two Jeans
by Nathalie Gottlieb
Who are those glamour queens in size two
Making me look in the mirror
And hate what I see
Making me ugly and awkward
Making me eat rice cakes
And whatever it takes
To be like those glamour queens in size
And who are they anyway?
Making me punish myself
Because I have no will
Like those glamour queens in size two
And who are they anyway?
Making me eat my sorrow
eat my emptiness
eat my broken promises
eat because it hurts too much to cry
because its easier than fighting
because its easier than sitting down
On the warm solid earth
Taking a deep breath
And connecting to the warm solid earth
And loving me
And who are they anyway?
Those glamour queens in size two jeans
Making me feel alive when I'm thin
And disgusted when I give in
To the temptations of sin
And WHY is it sin to
Feed our bodies
To FEED our bodies
To NURTURE ourselves
To LOVE bodies
To CONNECT with ourselves
To BE ourselves
And NOT one of those glamour queens in
size two jeans.
by Nicole Diamond
She counts her calories at lunch,
Measure her self-worth
By the numbers on the scale.
The flattering new dress she bought
Hangs in the closet unworn,
Waiting while she sheds
The extra pounds.
When he kisses her,
She worries that his hands,
Tenderly carressing her waist,
Are secretly measuring her fat.
She stares into the mirror
At the failure before her.
She gets As in every subject,
Never sits alone in the halls,
Always has a boyfriend,
But can't seem to lose enough weight
To make herself beautiful.
The models in "Cosmo"
Only make her feel worse,
With their sultry smirks,
Through perfect lips,
Form a perfect face and body.
Friends tell her how slender she is;
She's sure they are insincere.
She skips dinner, too much homework
And exercises until she feels dizzy.
The weight drops slowly,
2 pounds, 5 pounds, 10 pounds,
But still the mirror
Tells her she is fat.
She wears bulky sweaters
And baggy jeans,
Hiding the weight, and the ribs
That lately seem
To show through her skin.
Her fingernails have
Started to turn blue.
Mornings when the alarm rings,
She doesn't have the energy
To reach over and silence it.
One friend asks her if she's okay,
After she nearly faints during class.
She smiles wanly and nods;
She's too tired to speak.
She weighs less
Than any model in a magazine,
Still she doesn't think she is thin
Her mother asks her daily
What she wants for dinner,
Not accepting that whatever food
Goes down her throat
Travels the reverse journey
Ten minutes later.
She shivers with cold all the time
Her boyfriend has stopped calling.
Models seem to jeer at her
From their magazine covers.
She weighs less than she did
In seventh grade;
The excess fat still clings to her.
But she is determined
To diet her way to happiness-
Even if it kills her.
IS AN EATING DISORDER?
is an Eating Disorder?
eat the same thing everyday: yogurt. I love
the way it tastes. It's the perfect food,"
says Amy, 23, of Boston, Massachusetts.
As we talk, she carefully spoons fat-free
plain yogurt into her mouth. By the end
of the meal, she will have downed a pound
of yogurt. For lunch. Nothing else. This
meal resembles almost all of what Amy has
been eating for months. Yogurt, yogurt and
more yogurt. Occasionally, she'll eat a
bagel or drink some coffee.
Last July, a former gymnast named Christy
Henrich, 22, of Independence, Missouri,
died from multiple organ system failure.
The organs in her body-heart, liver, lungs-simply
stopped working. Christi trained for years
as a gymnast and hoped to make the Olympic
team in 1988 and 1992. When she failed to
qualify in 1988 her weight dropped almost
30 percent, until she was forced to retire
from gymnastics in 1991. She died three
don't eat normally," says Jennifer, 23,
of New Jersey. "I can eat an entire box
of cereal at one sitting." While in high
school, Jennifer sold candy as a fund-raiser
and would eat the candy instead of selling
it. "I tried to sell the ones I didn't like,
but I thought about it and felt, well, it's
chocolate and wafers. They can't be that
bad. And they weren't," she says. "Food
kills all my feelings. I stuff myself until
I feel nothing."
Amy is a recovering anorexic, someone who
suffers from an eating disorder called anorexia
nervosa. Christi suffered from both anorexia
nervosa and bulimia. Jennifer is considered
a compulsive eater. These conditions are
known as eating disorders and they afflict
people who are obsessed with food and fat.
Sufferers end up dealing with a warped relationship
with their body image, their weight and
There are three different kinds of eating
disorders. People who eat very little food
or stop eating altogether suffer from anorexia
nervosa. Those who make themselves throw
up after eating a lot of food have bulimia.
And when she stuffs herself with food all
the time, she suffers from compulsive overeating.
All three disorders are serious emotional
disorders that have life-threatening consequences.
According to the Anorexia Bulimia Care,
Inc. and the National Associations
of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders,
there are many symptoms that characterize
- Deliberate self-starvation with a weight
loss of at least 15% of the normal body
- An intense fear of gaining weight
- Refusing to eat, or eating only very
- Distorted body image (for example, thinking
you're fat, when you're actually thin)
- Absent or irregular menstruation (missing
several periods in a row)
- Exercising compulsively
- Excessive facial/body hair
- Sensitivity to cold
- Hair loss
- Preoccupation with food
- Binge eating (eating a lot of food at
one time), usually in secret
- Purging after a binge (vomiting, use
of laxatives, diet pills, diuretics, excessive
exercise or fasting)
- Frequent dieting
- Compulsive exercising
- Swollen salivary glands
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes
- Extreme concern with body weight and
Eating disorders develop for a number of reasons.
Some times, a person can have psychological,
interpersonal or social problems that may
lead to feelings of inadequacy, depression,
anxiety, loneliness. These feelings can push
someone into developing an eating disorder.
- This syndrome is characterized primarily
by periods of compulsive gorging or continuous
eating. While there is no purging, there
may be fasts (not eating anything for
several days) or repetitive diets. Body
weight may vary from normal to mild, moderate
or severe obesity.
"Food is something you can control," says
Leslie Simeoni, program coordinator of Anorexia
Bulimia Care, Inc. in Cambridge, Mass. "With
other problems, such as boyfriends or parents,
you can feel out of control." In anorexics,
food consumption can be monitored and controlled,
while bulimics see purging as "a form of
cleansing, getting the bad out," says Leslie.
Compulsive eaters, Leslie says, stuff their
problems down along with bowls of ice cream.
"Food becomes your way of handling problems,"
"Eating replaces a lot of feelings," says
Jennifer. "My top priority is my eating
problem. It doesn't make me think about
other things, like my family, finding a
job, applying to graduate school...my life."
If you think you may have an eating disorder,
or know someone who has one, it is important
to get professional help right away. The
most effective and long-lasting treatment
for an eating disorder is some sort of psychotherapy.
This involves finding a doctor who understands
eating disorders who can help the sufferer
to understand why she uses food in the way
she does and how she can change her behavior.
"If food is your way of handling problems,
it is good to talk to get to the root of
that problem," says Leslie. A good doctor
will help the sufferer pinpoint the problems
that cause the disorder, as well as the
symptoms of the actual disorder.
Another form of help can come from support
groups or group therapy. "It's good to have
support, because it is difficult to pull
yourself out of it," says Leslie. It can
be very helpful to talk things over with
people who understand what you are going
If you or someone you know shows signs
of an eating disorder, you can find help
by telling a parent, teacher or another
trusted adult about the problem. If you
don't feel comfortable doing that, you can
contact a group that specializes in eating
disorders. They can give you information
about eating disorders and refer you to
where you can get help. A few numbers are
listed here; you may find others in your
local area in the phone book or through
your hospital's main number. Call your local
hospital and ask to speak with someone in
an eating disorders clinic or referral service.
Some places to try:
Bulimia Care (ABC)
National Association of Anorexia
Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD)
Highland Park, Ill.
(Check in your phone book for a location
Geiger-Gibson Community Health
Center, Mental Health Counseling Department
Good Samaritan Hospital,
Pulyallup Valley Institute
(eating disorders program)