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How Low Self-Esteem Effects Anorexia Essay, Research Paper

How Low Self-Esteem affects Anorexia


I. Anorexia has no certain causes, but it has been

determined that psychological, enviromental, and

physiological factors play a role.

A. Self-esteem is both a psychological and

physiological factor of low self-esteem.

B. Girls and young women are most commonly associated

with low self-esteem and anorexia.

II. Self-Esteem is how you think and feel about

yourself. (McWilliams and Roger, 361) People can reach

low self-esteem levels in a variety of ways.

A. People with low self-esteem don t think they re

worth taking care of.

B. Young people s self-esteem can be effected by

parents and peers.

III. With low self-esteem, a young girl wants to have the

confidence that it seems everyone else has.

A. They may develop anorexia because they are

dissatisfied with themselves.

B. An anorexia will take drastic measures to change

her body image in an attempt to fit in.

An Conclusion: It has not yet been pin-pointed what the

exact cause of anorexia is. Many factors play a role,

including self-esteem. Children need to be showed love and

caring in order to gain the appropriate levels of


Anorexia is a big issue in society today.

Girls and boys are developing anorexic symptoms as

young as age five. While anorexia can be detected

in boys, girls, men, and/or women of all ages, the

most common ages of onset [remains] between

thirteen and twenty-two. (Levenkron,1)

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. People

who develop anorexia are usually afraid of

becoming obese and [have] such a distorted image of

[their] body, that [they] steadfastly [refuse] to

eat even when…hungry. (Mathews, 29) The

[eating] disorder [becomes] a disease…when

problems of the mind create problems for the body.


Scientists have been studying and researching

the causes of anorexia since it was first

introduced as a disease in the 19th century. An

exact cause of anorexia has not yet been

determined, although scientists do know that one of

three factors usually play a role in the onset.

Psychological, environmental, and/or physiological

factors are most commonly the determinates of the

onset of anorexia.

The major psychological features seem to be

the fear of maturing and the fear of loss of

control. (Mathews, 31) Many anorexics confirm

that they do become fearful of losing control in

their life, which is why they turn to starvation

and deprivation. By becoming anorexic or

developing anorexic patterns, they are able to

control their food intake and weight. Scientists

also believe that most anorexics develop the

disease due to low self-esteem. Girls, who are the

most commonly associated with anorexia, are often

commonly associated with low self-esteem.

Anorexics with low self-esteem often develop the

disease in attempts to gain higher levels of

self-esteem and confidence. Low self-esteem can be

categorized as both a psychological and

physiological cause of anorexia nervosa.

Self-esteem is how you think and feel about

yourself-how you regard yourself. (McWilliams and

Roger, 361) Most people have a healthy level of

self-esteem, but in the case of anorexics and

people with low self-esteem [they] don t think

they re worth taking care of. (Johnson, 122)

This pattern of thinking develops into a lifestyle

in anorexics. The anorexia is sometimes a form of

self-punishment for not fitting in with peers, not

being accepted by family or idols, or not feeling

equal to the people they know.

Young people s self-esteem is affected by

whoever performs the role of parents, as well as a

few significant others. (Myers and Myers, 65)

When a child feels that they are not equal to

others or do not feel accepted, their self-esteem

level can severely plummet, which may lead to

diseases like anorexia.

Another way that self-esteem is affected is by

the social messages that are delivered everyday.

Many messages are sent across that people will

tease and make fun of you because of your size,

people who are overweight will never really be

emotionally happy, and that overweight men and

women are not capable of being attractive or loved.

From these messages, a young child is taught to

think that being overweight is wrong. If the

messages are molded into the child s everyday life,

he or she may grow up afraid of gaining any amount

of weight.

The fear of gaining any extra weight is more

prominent in young girls and women [because they]

have been [bounded] by the thin ethic.

(Levenkron, 48) Girls and women grow up with the

Barbie doll image. Unknowingly, girls become

accustomed to the images of thin Barbie dolls and

anorexic models. The images, if set in their mind

at an early age, become a natural part of life.

The young girls may assume that Barbie is what they

should look like because Barbie is constantly in

their environment and their parents approve of the

child s playmate. A child may look at a Barbie

doll like …so many [others] look for

self-confidence and self-respect everywhere except

within themselves. (Johnson, 22)

Anorexia can also occur when girls are trying

to compete for attention or be prettier than their

friends. She may be crying out for attention from

her parents by becoming the center of attention

within her family. The anorexic may begin to have

[fears] that others will become skinnier that she

is. [That may] become a paranoid focus for the

anorexic. (Levenkron, 5)

With low self-esteem, a young girl wants to

have the confidence that it seems everyone else

has. If the girl finds that she could become

popular or attractive by losing weight, they may

take extreme measures like becoming anorexic. But

if they have to compete to stay skinny, or at least

feel as though they have to compete, the anorexic s

patterns could worsen and self-esteem levels may

drop dramatically.

People with low self-esteem are people who may:

1. Seem to verbally and actively reject


2. Are dissatisfied with themselves;

3. May even hold themselves in contempt;

4. Do not like the selves they see in

relation to others;

5. Find this picture of themselves

disagreeable and wish it were

different, but may not have confidence

in making any changes. (Myers and

Myers, 73)

The people with these tendencies are also likely to

develop anorexia. Many of the tendencies,

including being dissatisfied with themselves, are

symptoms of anorexia. People with low self-esteem

try to change anything that they can about

themselves, and their physical appearance/weight is

usually the easiest way.

Anorexia is an extremely unhealthy disease that

may bring deadly consequences. Even though an

exact cause of anorexia has not been found yet, we

can at least see ways in which it may be possible

to prevent serious cases of anorexia. In The

Dynamics of Human Communication: A Laboratory

Approach, written by Gail E. Myers and Michele

Tolela Myers, it is said that positive self-esteem

is often developed in adolescents who have attitude

of acceptance by parents, clearly defined and

enforced limits and respect and latitude for

individual action with the defined limits. (65)

If children can maintain a healthy self-esteem

level, they may not feel the need to turn to

anorexia for comfort. While things like genes can

be a cause of anorexia, it can be helpful for a

parent to show that a child is accepted, which can

raise self-esteem levels.

Works Cited

Johnson, Carol A. Self-Esteem Comes in All Sizes:

How to be Happy and Healthy at your Natural

Weight. New York: Bantam, 1995

Levenkron, Steven. Treating and Overcoming Anorexia

Nervosa. New York: Charles Scribner s Sons,


Mathews, John R. Eating Disorders. New York:

Facts on File Inc., 1991.

McWilliams, Peter and Roger, John. Life 101:

Everything we Wish we had Learned about in

School–but didn t. California: Prelude

Press, 1990.

Myers, Gail E. and Myers, Michele The T. Dynamics

of Human Communication: A Laboratory Approach.

New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1973.

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