Tag Archives: teen eating disorders

The Problem with ‘I Don’t Know’

“How are you? How was school? How was your date? How are you feeling?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Fine. I don’t know.”

This probably sounds familiar if you have a teenager. They learn, consciously or unconsciously, that if they “don’t know,” adults will leave them alone. This phrase not only becomes an escape from adults, but sometimes even an escape from themselves.

For teenagers with eating disorders, “knowing” can be painful and overwhelming. If she knows that she wants to go to a different restaurant than the guy she likes, he might not like her anymore. If he knows that he is disappointed Dad didn’t make it to his game, then it might mean Dad doesn’t love him. If she knows that what her friend said behind her back really hurt, she might lose her friend. In these situations, it can feel safer to “not know.”

All teens struggle at times with self-esteem and self-worth. For teens with eating disorders, particularly, experiencing disappointment, fear, loss, and rejection can be terrifying and personally devastating. Thus, the need to escape from what they “know” becomes part of the perpetuating cycle of the eating disorder. Many clients have said that their eating disorder helps to numb them to these experiences.

Part of our work at the Center for Discovery is to simultaneously draw out what they know (but have denied knowing) of their experiences, while also equipping them with skills and a community of peers and staff to help them cope with what comes up. They have learned to rely on their eating disorder to resolve or erase these experiences, but their self-esteem and self-worth is also lost in the process. We hope that, as they work out these experiences and the overwhelming emotions attached to them, they will experience being cared for, listened to, respected, encouraged and empowered.

 

The Under-Education of Over-Exercising

undereducation overexercising
What Does the Undereducation of Overexercising Really Mean?

In our society, we are bombarded with messages about exercising and eating.
These messages come through many different outlets including television, radio,
magazines, and even through government sponsored campaigns. According to Let’s
Move.gov, Michelle Obama recently launched a campaign called “Let’s Move” to raise awareness of the importance of exercise and encourage children to exercise for an hour per day and adults to exercise for thirty minutes per day.

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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/

Helping Your Child Overcome an Eating Disorder

Helping Your Child Overcome an Eating DisorderLabor of Love: Helping Your Child Overcome an Eating Disorder

It can be worse than overwhelming to discover that your child has an eating disorder that can threaten their life and their future. As a parent instincts can run from denying that there is a problem, to thinking that it is a problem that is easily fixed, to wanting to do everything in your power to fix the problem for them. One of the first and most important things that parents must learn is that their child has a serious and life threatening illness that must be treated by professionals that specialize in eating disorders.

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Teenage Eating Disorders – Center for Discovery

Recognizing Teenage Eating Disorders

Even though there has been a dramatic increase in teenage eating disorders, most parents still seem to have a hard time recognizing the early symptoms. The earlier you recognize these symptoms and get your child the help that they need, the less the likelihood is that they will suffer medical problems due to the damage that can occur as a result of their eating disorder.

One of the most obvious signs of teenage eating disorders is that your child will begin to show an unhealthy interest in the food and their weight. Often you will hear them talking about being fat and spending far too much time standing on the scale weighing themselves. In the case of Bulimia, you may notice that immediately after a meal, they end up in the bathroom vomiting the food they have just consumed. These are just a few of the most common signs that your child may have an eating disorder there are many more.

If you want to learn more about the symptoms of teenage eating disorders, please visit us at the Center for Discovery.

Eating Disorder Treatment

Does My Child Need an Eating Disorder Treatment Program?

This question is one that many parents ask themselves whenever they see that their child’s eating habits have changed significantly. Unfortunately for many children, this is as far as the though goes. Far too many parents fail to actually recognize the fact that the changes in the way their child is eating are a precursor to what can become a serious eating disorder that can lead to severe medical problems or to death.

At the same time, you do have to realize that just because your child has taken a greater interest in the way they eat, may not mean that they need to be immediately enrolled in an eating disorder treatment program. If you suspect that your child has or may be developing an eating disorder, you should talk to your family doctor and have your child evaluated.

For more information about eating disorder treatment programs, visit us at the Center for Discovery a treatment facility that deals specifically with children ages 14 – 19.

Teenage Eating Disorders

Teenage Eating Disorders Can Be Hard To Spot

With 10% of our teenagers suffering from some form of eating disorder, you might wonder why more parents do not spot the symptoms at an early stage and get their children the help they need. The problem is that teenage eating disorders can be very hard to spot, especially in a home where both parents are working to keep the family going.

Add to this the fact that most teenage eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia do not become obvious until they are fairly well advanced. A determined teenager can hide their eating habits for a long time, convincing their busy parents that they are just trying to lose a little weight if it is noticed at all. It is your job as a parent to keep a close eye on your children and if you noticed major changes in their eating habits, seek medical help to ensure that they do not have an eating disorder or get them the help they need.

At the Center for Discovery, we understand teenage eating disorders and are here to help your child recover fully.

Center for Discovery – Teenage Eating Disorders

Teenage Eating Disorders are More Common than You Think

While you might think that you are all alone in the world when your child is diagnosed as having an eating disorder, you definitely are not. Teenage eating disorders affect thousands of teenagers and run the full gamut from Anorexia to Bulimia and binge eating. Today’s teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure from their peers and from the way that Hollywood seems to project the concept of the perfect body.

Teenage eating disorders need to be caught and treated at the earliest possible stage in order to prevent them from experiencing permanent physical and psychological harm. If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, you need to seek professional help immediately. In many cases outpatient therapy such as that offered at the Center for Discovery can help, in more severe cases we offer a complete residential program specifically for those between the ages of 10 and 19.

Center for Discovery – Eating Disorder Centers

Are There Eating Disorder Centers Just for Kids?

The tabloids are full of this star or that star going into treatment for their eating disorder; they really set a bad example for our kids. When your child ends up being diagnosed with an eating disorder, the last place you want to send them is to a treatment center that is intended for adults. Fortunately as this disease is becoming more widely recognized in children, more eating disorder centers that are intended just for kids are opening.

You cannot approach treating children with eating disorders with the same programs as those intended for adults. Eating disorder centers that are designed specifically for kids approach this disease from a very different point of view. They have staff that is trained to work with younger people and need a much gentler hand than adults. Children are far more likely to be affected by peer pressure and need therapy to help them overcome peer pressure as well as the disease itself.

The Center for Discovery is one of the few eating disorder centers that has been created specifically for children ages 10-19 and has staff that is fully trained for this purpose.

Center for Discovery – Teenage Eating Disorders

Teenage Eating Disorders are More Common than You Think

While you might think that you are all alone in the world when your child is diagnosed as having an eating disorder, you definitely are not. Teenage eating disorders affect thousands of teenagers and run the full gamut from Anorexia to Bulimia and binge eating. Today’s teens are under a tremendous amount of pressure from their peers and from the way that Hollywood seems to project the concept of the perfect body.

Teenage eating disorders need to be caught and treated at the earliest possible stage in order to prevent them from experiencing permanent physical and psychological harm. If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, you need to seek professional help immediately. In many cases outpatient therapy such as that offered at the Center for Discovery can help, in more severe cases we offer a complete residential program specifically for those between the ages of 10 and 19.