Adolescence: Eating Disorders

Adolescence: Eating Disorders

Introduction

Madison, age 14, flips through her favorite fashion magazine, and feels envious of the models contained therein. They are thin, radiant, and eerily beautiful. They live fantastic lives: swimming at the base of waterfalls, yachting across the globe, or conquering the streets of Manhattan. Just under her awareness, a small thought enters her mind: If I could look like this, my life could be amazing, too. I would grow up to have adventures and be successful. People would desire me.

Similarly, Scott, age 13, reads his favorite sports magazines and compares his own child-like body to his sports heroes’ tall, muscular prowess. He also is upset that his friends have grown tall, have deeper voices, and have sprouted body hair, while his body seems to have stayed the same.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed by conflicting information about appearance and food; within the same magazine you can see articles for the latest fad diets as well as recipes for high calorie desserts. Some athletes, actors, and fashion models take extreme measures to be physically fit or starve themselves to be very thin, while there is an epidemic of obesity. How can adolescents be empowered to accept and love their own bodies when society and media endorse a limited depiction of beauty and masculinity?

This week you examine the body image concerns of both male and female adolescents, including the media influence on these issues. You also examine the extent to which developmental theories account for eating disorders.

Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze differences in weight and body image concerns between males and females
  • Analyze media influence on adolescent weight and body image issues
  • Apply developmental theories to the explanation of adolescent eating disorders
  • Apply theory-based interventions to address eating disorders in adolescent females
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