Modern lifestyle and a surplus of beauty icons dictate new rules and canons. Skinny models on TV screens, slender actresses in movies and on the covers of magazines program the audience into thinking that good looks are synonyms to success, thus encouraging lookism. Logically, if being slim means being beautiful, all the deviations from this pattern lead to feeling of inferiority and loss of self-appraisal. Psychologically vulnerable minds might perceive these challenges literary, and then anorexia becomes one of the hard conquerable consequences of struggling to gain the “ideal” body constitution. The study of the premises, consequences and recommendations on conquering the spreading trend are relevant to this topic.
These changes in the perceptions of beauty turn out to have developed only recently. Throughout history extreme bodily thinness was rather associated with poverty and diseases, whereas fuller figures were considered to be more aesthetically attractive and reflected normal eating habits, thus, health of people. The fact that nowadays a too skinny figure means anything but health, yet deemed as fitting some virtual beauty parameters, is tragic. Researches of anorexia display its relation to the global rat race, when people cannot find outlets for their thoughts and emotions, and when they feel they lose control over their lives they turn to self-aggressive methods such as refusing from food (McCafferty, 2012). In such a way, the medical name of the disease, anorexia nervosa, can be justified by the global pace of life. Anorexia, thus, can be assessed as one of the diseases triggered by a certain “uncoping” with problems and facilitated by being unhappy with one’s body for one reason or another.
It would be untrue to assert that inclination to eating disorders such as anorexia is a Western evil only. The influence of the show business world is clearly felt in Asia, and particularly in the UAE. Surveys prove that the “the cult of size zero” makes more and more women originating from this country diet on regular basis (Bardsley). Obviously, to accept that such a problem exists in the country is not so easy. However, in order for all people to have access to accurate information, and also for prevention and conquering considerations, national statistics should be made public. Erin McCafferty points out that this matter remains “a taboo subject in many parts of the world and especially so in the UAE”. The problem of this country is that detailed study of the problem began only in 2009, when every 50th girl in the UAE was revealed to suffer from anorexia, and that no national agency took the responsibility over bringing this issue under control. Moreover, there are no specialized recovery institutions in the country, which does not respond to a growing tendency of eating disorders.
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The last problem deserves special attention, as effective recovery from this disease, acknowledged by experts to be “very complicated to treat” (Underwood, 2010), often demands a whole set of medical specialists, both of nutritional and therapeutic directions. Regarding the fact that practically every mental disease finds its somatic reflection, the danger of anorexia is that it can produce some irreversible damage to the organism, including various deficiency conditions and severe impairment of reproductive system. A Swiss psychologist Hans-Christoph Steinhausen emphasizes the importance of timely and comprehensive treatment of this eating disorder. In his article he specifically maintains that, according to surveys, mortality rate becomes approximately 18 times higher in the case of an anorexic patient. Moreover, suicide is also a common outcome of an untreated or improperly treated illness. According to Steinhausen, anorexia becomes chronic in one-fifth of all cases. What distinguishes this eating disorder from bulimia is that a possibility of concomitant diseases is higher. Researches show that for more than a half of patients a complete or a partial form of this illness is aggravated by another psychiatric disorder (Steinhausen, 2009). These facts reveal anorexia as a severe condition having difficult psychological outcomes. Thus, treatment for it must be timely and effective.
Recommendations on conquering the epidemic of this self-inflicted nervous disease include, first of all, critical approach to information transmitted through mass media and reasonable approach to our own bodies. Just giving up eating and developing disgust for food can not bring the wanted results. Health is in the focus of beauty. Harmonic figure is sculptured through a balanced diet, and not a total refusal from food, as well as active way of life including regular exercising. Self-delusional idea that being skinny can make eastern girls look more modern and westernized should also be given up. Prevalence of anorexia as a recent trend in the UAE shows how vulnerable to foreign culture the country is. It became an issue of both a psychological and mentality character. In such a way, a balanced approach to beauty standards by the female population of this state might be a means of returning to national identity. One of the essential methods of dealing with an uncomfortable truth of anorexia is discussing, both at the local and more global level. Making national statistics on anorexia public can be assessed as effective as a simple talk with a person, whose friends and family should be attentive enough to notice that something went wrong.
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Anorexia has become a global problem, and the more attention is paid to it the better. The UAE has showed increasing rates of people inflicted by this disease in the last years. This eating disorder is triggered by the distorted image of beauty imposed by mass media, as well as the increased pace of life and emotional problems connected with it. Effective treatment must embrace both physical and psychological elements. Prevention of anorexia is a domain of social services and relies on the national policy.
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