In Part 1, I called to your attention the fact that irresponsible people have attempted to turn a serious eating disorder, anorexia nervosa or AN, into a lifestyle choice. In Part 2, I will bring your attention to a second eating disorder that some people are attempting the same thing with Bulimia Nervosa (bulimia).
Bulimia is described as “an eating disorder characterized by recurrent binge eating, followed by compensatory behaviors. The most common form is defensive vomiting, sometimes called purging; fasting, the use of laxatives, enemas, diuretics, and over exercising are also common (Wikipedia)”. Bulimia is a serious eating disorder that normally has the same type of symptoms as anorexia (AN), depression, low self esteem, isolation , weight issues and more. There are psychological issues that are present for both AN and bulimia, and the consequences can be just as deadly.
The clear majority of those who suffer with bulimia are female although men do suffer with the disorder. Most of the cases studied, according to Wikipedia, are associated with occupations where thinness is more acceptable, such as gymnastics, figure skating, cheerleading, acting, dance, modeling, etc. Bulimia can be more difficult to detect than AN because the weight difference is normally less extreme with bulimia than anorexia. What I have read over the years leads me to believe that not enough research has been done on bulimia and a great deal more needs to be done.
Today’s society in America is getting better about not constantly pushing the super skinny models and the idea that having curves is a bad thing but it is still our society that pushes adolescents into the idea that they need to binge, purge or otherwise starve themselves half to death for fear of being fat and unacceptable.
Most people I know either knows someone who suffers from bulimia or knows someone that they aren’t aware of as being bulimic. It is astounding how many people are desperate enough not to gain weight that they will stick their fingers down their throat in order to prevent their bodies from absorbing the calories of the food they just ate.
The biggest age group at risk seems to be adolescent girls but I have know quite a few grown women that range in age from 22 to 50 that have had lifetime bouts with bulimia. The longer a person suffers from bulimia the more likely they are to have real physical ailments caused by the disorder. Anything from dental ailments, dehydration, gastric reflux, esophageal problems and scarring of the hands and throat are just a few problems associated with the purging of bulimia.
There are, as in the case of “Pro-ana” websites, places on the internet that are trying to turn bulimia into a lifestyle choice instead of an eating disorder. These websites use the same principles as the “pro anorexia” crowds by referring to bulimia as “pro-mia”, a girl named “Mia” or “my friend Mia”. These websites actually encourage the binge and purge behavior of someone suffering from bulimia, totally disregarding the fact that the human body can not withstand such treatment and remain healthy. Many bulimics that hide their condition will wear bracelets in order to secretly recognize each other in public just as anorexic individuals do. The bracelet color for a bulimic is blue.
I encourage all parents to do research of bulimia just as I suggested learning about anorexia. I also encourage all parents to watch for signs of potential problems such as isolation, depression, excessive exercising, obsessing about weight, etc. It would also be a good idea to watch for scarring of the hands, laxatives being where they should not be or disappearing from where they should be.
Please do not let another child be sucked into a dangerous and painful way of life just to be thin.
Every child is a miracle and should be treated as such.