Anorexia: Why It Affects Girls More Than Boys

Anorexia is a nasty disease that compromises the lives of many females in developing countries globally, especially in the United States. It’s a problem we have right here at home. It’s a problem I am fighting daily. It eats away at not just your body, but it’ll eat away at your mind too. It makes you feel fat when you’re thin and you can’t seem to comprehend what is really going on. You just know you don’t want to eat, want to exercise, and you can’t feel hungry anymore sometimes or you don’t care how hungry you are. But why does it affect young women more readily than young men? We live in a society that shames larger women and praises thin women.

When we look in the media, the majority of the time, we see very thin women who are supposed to be role models for young girls. When the body type a young woman has doesn’t fit the picture of excellence, it is easy for her to feel ashamed and want to look very much different from the way she does. While praise for being thin is common and thin girls get to see themselves in the media, there is also shame for being fat. Many girls look at girls and women who are larger, see them and also see those young women being demeaned or made fun of by mass media or even friends. This may cause adolescent girls to avoid being or being viewed as fat at virtually any cost which is extremely scary when you think about it: they may go to any lengths to prove to themselves that they are not what someone is accusing them of, even if that means destroying themselves.

Girls connect being thin with being accepted.

It’s not an inappropriate connection to make. The girls who are often included are usually thinner because people do not want to avoid them based upon weight. Everyone wants to be included in something and feeling a sense of community is important to everyone, even if you’re extremely introverted like I am. Many girls become anorexic because they want to find a place where they belong and a community where they feel they can grow and thrive, which can be extremely unfortunate and detrimental.

Females more readily develop depression than males.

While human beings all have the same structures in their brains because we are all part of the same species, male and female brains are wildly different from one another. The neurochemistry that occurs in a female brain is so much vastly different than a male’s as well as the hormonal differences the sexes both have, which happens to make the development of anorexia to be far more common in young women than in men.

We teach young women to tear each other down rather than to build each other up.

Finding communities in which there is positivity between women and girls is extremely rare. Rather than creating a sisterhood between women, there is far too frequently violence that women enact against each other and this can come in the form of bullying between young girls. Fat shaming is not an uncommon practice among adolescent girls and this volume of verbal violence based on weight is not seen at nearly as high of rates in groups of boys. This can drive young women to becoming anorexic rather than realizing that the behavior in which their peers are engaging is simply a function of societal norms.