Does Kirsten eat too much and for all the wrong reasons? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating are becoming increasingly prevalent throughout western countries. According to US estimates from the National Institute of Mental Health, between 5-10 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men suffer from eating disorders or other associated dietary conditions. On average, about 0.5 to 3.7% of girls and women develop anorexia nervosa, and about 1.1 to 4.2% develop bulimia nervosa. About 0.5% of those with anorexia die each year as a result of their illness, making it one of the top psychiatric illnesses that lead to death.
Kirsten is not alone in feeling uncomfortable in her own skin. "The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report," commissioned by Dove, found that only 2% of thousands of women from 10 countries around the world considered themselves beautiful. Dove partnered with Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Harvard University professor and author of Survival of the Prettiest, and Dr. Susie Orbach, London School of Economics visiting professor and author of Fat is a Feminist Issue, to develop the report which revealed that (supporting the current and narrow definition of beauty) respondents were hesitant to claim ownership of the word 'beauty,' with more than 40% strongly agreeing that they do not feel comfortable describing themselves as beautiful.
Furthermore, only 5% felt comfortable describing themselves as pretty and a mere 9% felt comfortable describing themselves as attractive. Additionally, just 13% of women were very satisfied with their beauty; 12% said they were very satisfied with their physical attractiveness; 17% were very satisfied with their facial attractiveness; and only 13% were very satisfied with their body weight and shape.
In a world captivated by diet and makeover programs, a third of women surveyed expressed themselves very or somewhat dissatisfied with their body weight. The women of Japan had the highest levels of dissatisfaction at 59% - followed by Brazil (37%), United Kingdom and USA (tied at 36%), Argentina (27%) and the Netherlands (25%).
This article was originally published in January 2008, and has been updated for the
April 2009 paperback release.
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