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Wasting Away

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  1. Introduction
  2. Discussion of eating disorders as biological ailments
  3. The American society and the need for the woman to be thin to be deemed 'attractive'
  4. Tracing the link between media representations of women and cases of eating disorders
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

Over the centuries, numerous scientists have devoted their lives to curing the ailments that have plagued mankind. While some diseases (such as polio) have been heroically defeated, others still kill millions of people every year. HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and Influenza, are just some of the many diseases that are serious factors in world health today. Although no cure has been found for many of these diseases, scientists are working non-stop to eradicate them. National and world health organizations are banding together in hopes of putting an end to the many deadly diseases that face the world today. With all the attention placed on infectious diseases, however, some serious ailments fall through the cracks. Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, are important health problems which afflict the world today; specifically the United States. Although anorexia has led to countless deaths in America over the past decades, little is known about the eating disorder. There is also much debate involving anorexia and other eating disorders; whether the ailments are biological or psychological, and just how serious a problem they are. Anorexia is a very serious problem in this country, and thousands of people are dying because so little is known about the devastating disease.

[...] Over the years thousands upon thousands of women have died of complications related to anorexia. Celebrities, such as singer Karen Carpenter, have battled with the disease, and lost their lives. In 1997, the case of ballerina Heidi Guenther received national attention. The twenty-two-year- old dancer died suddenly while on a vacation with her parents. It was later revealed that she had struggled with anorexia for years. At the time of her death, Guenther was five feet three inches tall, and weighed less than ninety pounds. [...]

[...] Many of the biological factors associated with anorexia are still unknown. Anorexia is extremely difficult to declare as either a ?psychological? or ?biological? disease; it has the properties of both. One of the most apparent factors of anorexia, however, is neither psychological nor biological; it is cultural. In American society, a woman must be thin to be deemed ?attractive.? This is the message the media in the United States has been hammering into the heads of women for latter half of this century. [...]

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