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Eating Disorders and Body Image

Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders are serious but treatable mental and physical illnesses that can affect people of all genders, ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, body shapes, weights, and sexual orientations. National surveys estimate that 20 million women and 10 million men in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop and can cause serious problems throughout the body if left untreated. Common types of eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and avoidant /restrictive food intake disorder. Warning signs and symptoms can vary across eating disorders and do not always fit into neat categories. Below is an overview of some symptoms that may indicate a problem.

Common Symptoms of an Eating Disorder

  • Refusal to maintain body weight at or above minimally normal weight for age and height
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distortions in body image
  • Shape and body weight have a significant influence on self-esteem
  • In women, absence of three consecutive menstrual cycles
  • Restricting food intake
  • Binging (feeling out of control to stop eating, eating large amounts even when not hungry)
  • Self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives or other medications, enemas, fasting
  • Over-exercising
  • Frequent weighing or checking in the mirror for perceived flaws in appearance
  • Physical symptoms (stomach cramps, dizziness, feeling cold all the time, fainting)

Early intervention is a key part of eating disorder prevention and helps reduce serious psychological and health consequences. Recovery from an eating disorder can be a long process and requires a qualified team of professionals and the love and support of family and friends. If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of an eating disorder, contact the Counseling Center.

On-Campus Resources

  • Counseling Center: The Counseling Center offers a variety of services for students experiencing eating and body image concerns. Reach the Center at 215.895.1415 or to make an appointment to speak to a counselor.
  • Student Health Center: Visit their website or call 215.220.4700.

Off-Campus Resources

Online Resources

What is Body Image?

Body image is how you see yourself when you look in the mirror, in pictures, or how you see yourself in your mind. It encompasses:

  • What you believe about your own appearance (including your memories, assumptions, and generalizations)
  • How you feel about your body, including your height, shape, and weight
  • How you sense and control your body as you move; how you physically experience your body

Social and mass media provides a significantly influential context for people to learn about body ideals, the value placed on being attractive, shows us what we "should" aspire to look like and sells us the products to achieve that look. There are ways to improve one's body image. Here are some helpful suggestions:

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.