Tag Archives: eating disorder

Overcoming Bulimia

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by eating excessive amounts of food in a short period (binging) followed by guilt and shame leading to self-induced vomiting, extreme exercise, or laxative abuse (purging). Unlike anorexia nervosa, many individuals with bulimia nervosa are of normal body weight or are overweight. There are many different of causes leading to the development of bulimia nervosa including biological causes such as genetics, hormones and neurotransmitters, developmental factors such as trauma in childhood, psychological factors such as underlying mental health disorders and sociocultural factors such as peer pressure and body image distortion.

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What Factors Can Contribute to an Eating Disorder?

What Factors Can Contribute to an Eating DisorderKnow What Factors Can Contribute to an Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders can stem from a variety of factors that include psychological, interpersonal, social, and biological. Eating disorders can be influenced by environment as well. It is important to know that eating disorders are not all about food. Eating disorder behaviors such as restricting, purging, and binging, are coping skills individuals use when under distress. Here are some factors that can contribute to an eating disorder:

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How to Survive Family Cookouts When You Have an Eating Disorder

How to Survive Family Cookouts When You Have an Eating DisorderWant to Stay on the Path to Recovery? How to Survive Family Cookouts When You Have an Eating Disorder

With Labor Day off, many people will be heading to parks and beaches for family picnics and parties. Like most major holidays, our annual tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the U.S. will be celebrated as most special occasions are. With food and booze. Recipes for dips, dishes, and drinks are posted on all the most popular social media outlets. But for people recovering from eating disorders, holidays can be very challenging.

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Family Approach to Therapy for Eating Disorder

Family Approach to Therapy for Eating DisorderNew Family Approach to Therapy for Eating Disorder

Do you suspect that they might have an eating disorder? If you have reached the point that you are searching for answers, chances are, you already know something is wrong. You just don’t know what to do. You may feel overwhelmed by the person’s behavior, and getting professional help can seem intimidating. But don’t lose hope. There is something you can do.

Finding an adequate effective family approach to therapy for eating disorder can play a major role in a successful treatment program.

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Eating Disorders in the Veteran Population

Eating Disorders in the Veteran PopulationWhat’s Causing Eating Disorders in the Veteran Population?

Service men and women transitioning from the military into civilian life face many challenges. From job searches to reintegrating back to family life, veterans must learn new skills and get used to changes that may have occurred in their lives during their years of service. As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have drawn to a close, we have learned more and more of the physical and mental health complications veterans face. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicide rates among veterans make frequent headlines. Less known are the eating disorders that plague our veterans, whether during service or after discharge.

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Nutrition: Essential Component for Healing

Nutrition Essential Component HealingNutrition Essential Component for Healing

A key component to eating disorder treatment is developing and monitoring a nutrition plan. Nutritional deficiencies are common in people with eating disorders. Lack of nutrients from food restriction and electrolyte imbalances from purging and dehydration are serious complications that can be life-threatening if not remedied. A registered dietitian (RD) is an essential member of the treatment team and is responsible for guiding patients and their families through the weight and nutrition restoration process.

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Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Misconceptions About Eating DisordersDebunking Misconceptions About Eating Disorders

Because eating disorders are complex and often misunderstood, there are several misconceptions about eating disorders and eating disorder behavior. These misconceptions include: people with eating disorders do not eat anything, you must be a certain size to have an eating disorder, and eating disorders cannot be fatal. A popular and incorrect notion about eating disorders is that people with eating disorders do not eat anything.

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Staying In Recovery: Useful Tips

Staying in RecoveryStaying In Recovery

The decision to seek help and begin treatment for an eating disorder is one that takes a lot of courage. However, there is something more important than the decision to seek treatment and that is maintaining the motivation to stay in treatment and ultimately recover. The hardest obstacles faced on the road to recovery are challenges not usually placed by others but by ourselves. It is no surprise that those who suffer from an eating disorder tend to develop patterns of negative thought distortions about food and themselves. One of the most important tools to use in combating this is education.

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The Abercrombie and Fitch Controversy: Developments and Reactions

Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F) and its subsidiaries, Abercrombie Kids, Hollister and Gilly Hicks are both popular brands among teens and young adults.  However, the retailer only provides their clothing up to a size 10. Comments made by the CEO of A&F, Mike Jeffries, from an interview with Salon in 2006 and were recently brought back into the public spotlight and have created a large amount of controversy. Jeffries stated,

“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all- American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. (Denizet, Lewis, Benoit.)”

The quote has incited outrage and a wide range of responses. One of the most prominent comes from Benjamin O’Keefe, a teen from Orlando, Florida who created a petition on Change.org calling for A&F to begin carrying XL, XXL, and sizes above size 10 in their stores.  The teen states that this type of exclusionary practice was one of the contributing factors in an eating disorder he battled for several years, and that it only serves to promote poor body image (O’Keefe, Benjamin).

Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has joined with O’Keefe calling these comment “body shaming” and encouraged shoppers to boycott A&F (Flaherty, Maggie).  A protest sponsored by NEDA was scheduled to take place outside A&F headquarters and one of their retail stores in Ohio on May 20, 2013.

However, A&F executives have agreed to meet with O’Keefe and NEDA, and Jeffries issued an apology on May 16, 2013 stating,

“While I believe this 7 year old, resurrected quote has been taken out of context, I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offense. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterizations  or other anti-social   behavior based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics (Fairchild, Caroline)”

The protests have since been called off. However, the comments which have surfaced only lack the last few lines from the original comment which state, “Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny.” These lines do not add much “context” for why Jeffries believes those who are size 10 and under should be the only customers who are able to aspire to the popularity and “All American, cool kid” idea A&F is selling.

Others have come up with their own protests. Jes Baker, a blogger has created a series of sexualized black and white images which parody A&F print ads in which she renames A&F as “Attractive & Fat”.  Baker says she hopes that this controversy can be an opportunity for social change. However, she also criticizes Jeffries and his apology, stating that his comments only reinforce “the unoriginal concept that fat women are social failures, valueless, and undesirable (Baker, Jes).”

Another reaction comes from Greg Karber who created a video on YouTube in which he buys A&F clothing from a thrift store and distributes it the homeless in Los Angeles’ skid row in the hopes of rebranding A&F as #1 in homeless apparel. He encourages the public to donate their A&F clothing to the homeless as well and created the Twitter hashtag #Fitchthehomeless (Karber, Greg).

While this response is well intentioned, it suffers from the same ills as Jeffries comments.  It singles out a group of people who are branded as not being “All American” or “cool” and were only singled out to anger Abercrombie and Fitch because they are viewed as an underdesireable section of the population.  Instead of further alienating and hurting people, reactions should call for a change that uplifts and promotes self-esteem rather than more shame.

Jeffries’ 2006 comments have been met with public outrage and his apology has not quelled this anger by any means.  The attitudes which are portrayed in this comment are harmful to the very section of the population which A&F markets to.  The message here is that one can only be popular if their body is a certain size and that their self-worth and worth as a friend or romantic partner is tied up in their ability to fit into A&F clothes. Those teens and young adults who do not fit into these sizes may develop shame about their bodies even though they are perfectly healthy and represent the average American.  Teens, who are desperate to fit in and are highly socially motivated, may resort to extreme measures to fit into A&F’s clothing such as developing disordered and restrictive eating habits, purging or exercising obsessively and excessively.  If they cannot reach this goal, they may cope with their “failure” with actions of self-harm or even suicide.  Jeffries, whether he likes it or not, is positioned to decide who can be the “all American cool kid”.  He can decide to expand his definition to include all kids, or at least kids who are of average size.

A&F executives at the time of this writing are agreeing to meet with representatives of NEDA.  It is hoped that their policies will change after this meeting and that they will understand the huge impact they can have on the social climate of teens.  However, his apology does not evidence that any of the feedback has altered his business practices.  If Jeffries’ meeting with NEDA does not result in a change in their policies, which include hiring only “attractive” employees to serve as models (who therefore would risk their job if their bodies became unable to wear A&F clothing), then the public must send a message with their wallets.

Other retailers offer clothing in a wider variety of sizes. Retailer, H&M currently uses plus size model, Jennie Runk, who is a size 12 as the face of their entire line of swim wear, plus size or not (Sun, FeiFei).  Retailers who promote healthy body image should be lauded and the wallets of the people should also support such retailers, not companies whose business practices promote body shame and are unfazed by the possible destructive outcomes of such practices.

 

References:
Baker, Jes. “To Mike Jeffries, C/O Abercrombie and Fitch” The Militant Baker. May 19, 2013. 22, May 2013. http://www.themilitantbaker.com/2013/05/to-mike-jeffries-co-abercrombie-fitch.html
Denizet, Lewis, Benoit. “The Man Behind Abercrombie and Fitch.” Salon. January 24, 2006. 22, May 2013. http://www.salon.com/2006/01/24/jeffries/
Fairchild, Caroline. “Abercrombie and Fitch’s Semi-Apology Didn’t Go Over Too Well.” The Huffington Post. May 16, 2013. 22, May 2013. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/16/abercrombie-fitch-ceo-controversy_n_3286502.html
Flaherty, Maggie. “Update: Monday, May 20th Abercrombie and Fitch Protest Cancelled.” NEDA. N.D. 22, May 2013. http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/update-monday-may-20th-abercrombie-and-fitch-protest-cancelled
Karber,Greg. “Abercrombie & Fitch Gets a Brand Readjustment. #Fitchthehomless.” YouTube May 13, 2013. 22, May 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O95DBxnXiSo.
O’Keefe, Benjamin. ”Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries: Stop Telling Teens They Aren’t Beautiful; Make Clothes for Teens of All Sizes!” Change.org. N.D.  22, May, 2013. http://www.change.org/abercrombieforall.
Sun, Feifei. “H&M Praised for Using Size 12 Model in Swimwear Campaign.” Time. May 8, 2013. 22, May 2013. http://style.time.com/2013/05/08/hm-praised-for-using-size-12-model-in-swimwear-campaign/

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