Does the new YA novel Wintergirls TEACH girls to have anorexia?
Psychologist Dr. Lisa Boesky says, "It is rare for girls who are not at risk for eating disorders to read a book such as Wintergirls and suddenly develop one. However, for girls who already suffer from an eating disorder or who are on the edge of one, these types of books can trigger a variety of negative emotions and behaviors, and sometimes even provide inspiration or helpful hints toward remaining thin."
Dr. Lisa continues, "If teens are reading these types of books, their parents should be involved and there should be continual conversation about the story."
How do you know if your daughter is suffering from an eating disorder?
"Today we are seeing a really broad range of eating-disordered behavior, including extreme dieting, over-exercise, and skipping meals. While not all teens reach the point of having an anorexia or bulimia diagnosis, millions of them do fall into those gray areas," says Claire Mysko, author of Girls Inc. Presents: You're Amazing! A No-Pressure Guide to Being Your Best Self. "The bottom line is that if your child's thoughts about food and weight are preventing her from feeling good about herself and enjoying her life, that is enough of a sign to seek help from a professional."
We spoke with Dr. David B. Herzog, author of Unlocking the Mysteries of Eating Disorders, momlogic friend Counseling Mom, Roseanne Tobey, L.P.C., and Claire Mysko, who is also founder of Inside Beauty, for important warning signs that parents can look for in teens who may be suffering from bulimia or anorexia.
5 Top Signs of Anorexia or Bulimia:
1. Extreme food restriction: The teen has a drastic change in her eating habits. For instance, she is only willing to accept really small portions and then pushes them around the plate instead of eating them.
2. Perceives her body or parts of her body as extremely large when that is not the case: This may result in a change in clothing style -- a daughter who has lost a lot of weight and is now wearing baggy clothing.
3. Disappearance of food from refrigerator or pantry: Bingers usually binge in secret, so keep an eye out for pantries or fridges that have been emptied of their contents, as well as large amounts of empty food wrappers, either in the garbage or stashed in some out of the way place.
4. Excessive, compulsive exercise: An obsession with exercising -- for instance, several times a day, or to the point of complete exhaustion.
5. Extreme weight loss or marked fluctuations in weight: Dramatic weight loss can be a sign of anorexia, but it is important to remember that not all eating disorders result in weight loss. Many bulimics are normal weight and they can even be overweight. That doesn't make their eating-disordered behavior any less dangerous. Watch out for frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, and excessive exercise (specifically, increased discussion about needing to burn off calories). If you find any evidence that your child has been abusing laxatives or diet pills, confront her immediately.
The earlier a patient is diagnosed and treated with an eating disorder, the more likely it is that they will recover completely. However, according to Walden, one of the country's leading hospitals for treating eating disorders, prolonged bouts with bulimia and anorexia that go untreated can result in osteoporosis, retarded growth, kidney problems, ulcers, and heart failure, and even death.
Do you think YA books can encourage girls to develop anorexia?