Tell Me Really – How Do I Look?

From a very young age, females are socialized to seek validation about their looks especially from the opposite sex. Think back to when you were little and you twirled around in circles with your shiny patent leather shoes, shirley temple curls and pleated dress only to stop and ask your father and sometimes mother the question that would ultimately define the tone and mood of your entire day – “Do I look pretty”? You grew older but the questions didn’t really ever stop. As women, we seek approval from our boyfriends, spouses and significant others almost on a daily basis. We ask if we are too fat or too thin, if our breasts and butts are firm enough; if our skin is firm enough and if we are pretty enough.  Wanting to be attractive to others is important – of course on some level it is healthy and important to believe that others perceive you as sexually desirable But what happens when the desire to be accepted and loved by others and your self is strictly defined by your physical appearance?  Better yet, what happens when a young girl has experienced severe trauma like sexual abuse that goes untreated and seeks to control her pain, fear and insecurities through food. What happens when this girl has such an exagerrated low self esteem and wants to let her anxieties out through food? The result can be an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia nervosa and/or binge eating.

Survivors of CSA commonly report problems with eating disorders and this is a very serious and urgent issue that we need to address immediately. The first step is to recognize and admit if you are showing symptoms of an eating disorder. The following list is found here:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/eating-disorders/DS00294/DSECTION=symptoms

Anorexia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Refusal to eat and denial of hunger
  • An intense fear of gaining weight
  • A negative or distorted self-image
  • Excessive exercise
  • Flat mood or lack of emotion
  • Irritability
  • Fear of eating in public
  • Preoccupation with food
  • Social withdrawal
  • Thin appearance
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Soft, downy hair present on the body (lanugo)
  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dry skin
  • Frequently being cold
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dehydration

Bulimia signs and symptoms may include:

  • Eating until the point of discomfort or pain, often with high-fat or sweet foods
  • Self-induced vomiting
  • Laxative use
  • Excessive exercise
  • An unhealthy focus on body shape and weight
  • A distorted, excessively negative body image
  • Low self-esteem
  • Going to the bathroom after eating or during meals
  • A feeling that you can’t control your eating behavior
  • Abnormal bowel functioning
  • Damaged teeth and gums
  • Swollen salivary glands in the cheeks
  • Sores in the throat and mouth
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Sores, scars or calluses on the knuckles or hands
  • Menstrual irregularities or loss of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Constant dieting or fasting
  • Possibly, drug or alcohol abuse

Symptoms of binge-eating disorder may include:

  • Eating to the point of discomfort or pain
  • Eating much more food during a binge episode than during a normal meal or snack
  • Eating faster during binge episodes
  • Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
  • Frequently eating alone
  • Feeling depressed, disgusted or upset over the amount eaten

Please, don’t let silence and shame stop you from seeking help. Remember – we believe strongly here at Survivor Today – you are not alone and you are stronger than you think!

If you have overcome this condition and or are currently seeking treatment – please share your experiences with us here at survivor today. Send an email at support@survivortoday.org

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