Girls as young as 7 suffering from anorexia

Filed under: Big Kids, Tweens, Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies, Media

Although it is not the norm, there have been a number of instances where girls as young as seven years-old suffer from anorexia. One such hospital that treats children with the disorder is Great Ormond Street, the famous children's hospital in central London.

The recent ban on ultra skinny models during Madrid's and London's Fashion Weeks has brought to light the effects of the media on young women and girls. Although it would be over simplifying the matter to blame the eating disorders of the very young on media images of super thin models, the long, thin body type held as ideal by most societies does take its toll on women of all ages. "
If social values celebrate excessive thinness and if you see highly paid models who are perceived as beautiful, then people are going to think maybe that's the way to get fame and success," commented Dr Goldin, a consultant child psychiatrist at the Great Osmond Street hospital.

Other factors that influence young girls and women include the desire to be perfect, the onset of puberty, the mother's values and her own body image. Peer pressure also makes an impact on girls. My daughter, who is nine years-old and extremely thin and tall for her age, hears time and again from friends, peers and strangers about how gorgeous her body is. I bristle every time this happens because I do not want that image to be the part of her that matters most in her mind. I want her to feel good about her academic achievements and her athletic abilities.

Body image is a subject that will never go away. While there are certain segments of society that might be willing to embrace different body types, there will always be those who desire what has long been impressed upon us as ideal. It is sad and unfortunate, but true. I believe the best we can as parents is to revel in the size and shape that we are and to teach our children that it is okay to be that size.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.