Eating disorders are complex conditions that arise from a combination of long-standing behavioral, emotional, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors. Scientists and researchers are still learning about the underlying causes of these emotionally and physically damaging conditions. We do know, however, about some of the general issues that can contribute to the development of eating disorders. While eating disorders may begin with preoccupations with food and weight, they are most often about much more than food. People with eating disorders often use food and the control of food in an attempt to compensate for feelings and emotions that may otherwise seem overwhelming. For some, dieting, bingeing, and purging may begin as a way to cope with painful emotions and to feel in control of one's life, but ultimately, these behaviors will damage a person's physical and emotional health, self-esteem, and sense of competence and control.
Is your body image positive or negative? If your answer is negative, you are not alone. Women in the U.S. are under pressure to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image. Women are constantly bombarded with "Barbie-like" doll images. By presenting an ideal that is so difficult to achieve and maintain, the cosmetic and diet product industries are assured of growth and profits. It's no accident that youth is increasingly promoted, along with thinness, as an essential criterion of beauty. The message we're hearing is either "all women need to lose weight" or that the natural aging process is a "disastrous" fate.