In researching today's blog post, I've come across some unsettling comments and articles about the intense pressure young women feel when spring break or 'bikini season' comes around.
For example, there was a disturbing response on Yahoo Answers to the following question: "I want to lose weight over spring break (about 10 days)…What's a daily routine I should do everyday as far as when to eat and when to exercise and which exercises?" The answer: "Binge, purge, binge, purge."
There were other healthy and sensible answers, of course, but this cynical response is a scary reminder of how the annual 'spring break' or 'bikini season' pressure on women to lose weight has not only become part of American culture but also the impetus for unhealthy diets and even eating disorders.
"Spring break is one of the most dangerous times of the year for young women struggling with their weight," said Liz Lagasse, a nutritionist specializing in eating disorders at GatorWell Health Promotion Services at the University of Florida.
Marili Rivera, a 2006 Florida State University graduate, described the pre-spring-break ritual scene in her sorority house as an extreme weight-loss competition.
"We all wanted to look hot in our bikinis, and the rush to lose weight was almost contagious," she said.
Unhealthy fad diets like Kimkins, group dieting, and extreme weight loss or pro-ana sites (read Is Your Child Inspired by Thin) may actually promote eating disorders which can result in lifelong mental and physical problems for women. According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) "as many as 10 million females and 1 million males are fighting a life and death battle with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia" in the United States.
Individuals and Families Make a Difference
NEDA's site stresses that "real people – individuals and families – are the strongest advocates" for increasing public awareness, access to treatment, and funding for research to help change our thin-obsessed culture.
As our previous post 'A Time of Change' points out, "Spring represents change at its best — a time of growth, a time of awakening, a time to celebrate." With the Easter holiday and upcoming Passover, we are reminded of how important family support is for all of us to either make healthy lifestyle changes or to help others do the same.