Eating disorders afflicting older women, today.

Doctors say that more and more of the estimated 8 million Americans who suffer from an eating disorder are over the age of 35.

Stressors that come up when we are older, like romantic breakups, divorce, money problems, menopause, retirement, and job pressures can activate an eating disorder in you. When pressures build up so much that your daily life starts to feel unmanageable, you may begin to feel out of control and poorly about yourself. You may start to control what you eat to regain some control over your life and to get back your self-esteem.

Did you ever notice how often a person who is going through a hard time begins a diet or starts running? Now, this can be a good thing, most certainly. It is a way to positively influence some feature of our lives. But, in the case of eating disorders, this good thing is taken too far. No person starts out to be an anorexic or bulimic. The eating pattern starts with the good intention to manage a stressful condition.

The same issue of control and low self-esteem operates for younger women who have an eating disorder, only their stressors typically involve school, dating, and peer pressure. I submit here that the trend today for older women to have more eating disorders also involves a form of peer pressure. Prior to seeing this report on the nightly news, I have been struck by the increasing weight loss in older women who are celebrities in our culture. Take for example, Bethany Frankel of the Real Housewives of New York City. She wrote, the book called the Skinny Girl Cocktail. Yes, okay, I watch this show.

To me, Bethany is one of the more likeable reality show personalities. She’s much more than a pretty face. She went from reality show personality, to a best-selling author, to getting married and having a baby, in a span of two years.

Bethany got skinnier and skinnier with her increasing success and fame. In my view, she went from a very attractive, slender and shapely woman to a shapeless skinny girl.

We take many of our cues from television celebrities. What they look like and wear has become important to us. If it were not, shows that feature thin, good looking older women as symbolizing what is culturally desirable for this age group wouldn’t be doing so well in TV ratings.

You know the saying I’m sure, “You can never be too rich or too thin”. I won’t debate here how rich is rich enough. But, I know for sure, a woman can be too thin.

There is a great thing that has happened to older women in the last decade or two. Culture is recognizing more the mature woman as an age group that is unique in experience, talents, wisdom and beauty. Let’s continue to value ourselves for what we uniquely bring to the table. We don’t have to compete with younger women in size, beauty or talents. Thank goodness! We can be ourselves. Instead of the saying, “You can never be too thin”, let’s adopt the saying, “You can never be too healthy”. Or, what about, “You can never be too authentic”?

What’s your take on this topic?

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2 Responses to “Eating disorders afflicting older women, today.”

  1. avatar Jwonderboy says:

    The Renaissance painters never painted a skinny woman. True beauty back then had nothing to do with skinny and I personally agree. However, morbid obesity is also a health issue and should be dealt with accordingly. Health and happiness are the keys to enjoying the passage of time. I didn't want to raise skinny kids; I wanted happy and healthy kids.

  2. Health and happiness are most certainly the keys to enjoying our lives. Thank you for your wisdom. I wish more people focused on happy, healthy children. I think morbid obesity would lessen much as well if this were our focus.


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