In recent history, the idea of feminine beauty has been shifting toward a less healthy, overly thin model. Women are so obsessed with their figures that they sometimes develop life-threatening habits. Because pressures to conform to a "perfect body" image are high in our society, teenagers have more eating disorders and abuse more diet drugs then ever before. Significant rapid weight loss affects every part of the body and can become fatal. .
For reasons that are unclear, many teenage girls feel the need to be as thin as they can be. Many young women develop potentially life-threatening eating disorders, some being anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. It is estimated that seven million women suffer from anorexia nervosa. Out of these seven million women, forty-three percent are reported to be between the ages of sixteen and twenty years old (www.anad.org). Anorexia victims weigh eighty-five percent less than what is expected for their age and height (www.familiesonline.co.uk.htm). Teenagers with anorexia severely limit their food intake to very dangerous levels. This leads to starvation by slowing or stopping certain bodily processes. Blood pressure falls, breathing rate slows, skin becomes dry, joints swell, and body temperature begins to fall. Body chemicals become so unbalanced that heart failure can occur (Berg, 31). Duration of this disorder may range from a single episode to a lifelong illness.
Another type of eating disorder is bulimia nervosa. Though bulimia is not as dangerous as anorexia, many teenagers turn bulimic as an effort to become "supermodel" like. Up to one-third of anorexic individuals develop bulimia nervosa (Berg, 58). Bulimics go through episodes of binge eating and either vomit or use laxatives after high-calorie intakes. Vomiting is the most common form of purging. Some teenagers go through this series five times a day (www.familiesonline.co.uk.htm).