Eating Disorders in Teenage Girls

Teenagers are going through many changes physically, cognitively, socially, emotionally and the psychologically.  The stage in psychological development during the teen years  is a conflict between identity and role confusion.  The teenage years can be a very confusing  and overwhelming time for youth as well as their parents.  Issues with body image can add to this confusion.   Young  people are bombarded with information daily  about body image  and most media sources represent the “perfect” body  as desirable but  for the most part unrealistic and unattainable.  It is impossible for anyone to look like “Barbie”.    Cindy Crawford  herself  once said:  ” I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford”, referring to all the airbrushing and altering they do to her pictures we see in magazines and commercials.  These misrepresentations of the female body may contribute to a distortion in young girls minds as to what a woman  should look like.    It is difficult to avoid these images that young girls see everyday on T.V,  billboards, magazines, and advertisements.  However, there are ways for prevention to occur at the family level,  here are some tips:

* Encourage healthy attitudes toward food, exercise and body image.

*Develop healthy self esteem, and a better understanding of the whole self.  ( interests, talents, strengths).

*Improve dietary habits to provide nutritious meals and snacks.

*Provide realistic models and heros to look up too. Famous female athletes  don’t usually look like “barbie”.

*Eliminate teasing that references weight or apperance.

*Encourage participation in team sports. Those who are part of a team sport often have better body image.

*Teach strategies to deal with stress and anxiety.

* Address underlying issues that may lead to stress, and distorted body image.

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