I know a young, intelligent, artistic girl whose life has been taken over by anorexia/bulimia and is slowly being destroyed by it. Society places a strong emphasis on being thin, yet it doesn't offer assistance to those trying to recover from an eating disorder.
I've heard this disease referred to as "the good girl's drug" and it truly is. Most people will find this an unusual comparison because they don't know what the life of a person with an eating disorder is like. Even family members will look away and act as if it doesn't exist. The only difference between a drug addict and a person with an eating disorder is that when addicts are ready to recover, they have many more resources available to help them. Society takes pride in helping them to recover, making financial aid and facilities readily available.
A person with an eating disorder has few facilities and no financial aid. Health insurance doesn't even cover all of the treatment required for recovery or therapy.
There are other obstacles to recovery. Teachers are not educated in this area. We spend numerous dollars to train teachers about violence control and sexual harassment, which is very much needed, yet we overlook educating them on a disease that is widespread in our youth. This is an illness, not a weakness.
This ignorance trickles down to the students, who will taunt a peer with an eating disorder because they don't understand the seriousness of the disease.
Our culture needs to stop emphasizing "thin is beautiful," develop better health insurance plans, recognize an eating disorder as a serious illness and guide our youth to living healthier lifestyles.
SANDRA G. CORSARO