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“Black Swan” Prompts Diet Craze: What This Means for your Teen

By Emily Murray

Growing up is  filled with pressures. If you have seen the new film “Black Swan,” which tells the tale of a troubled young ballerina played by Natalie Portman, you  get a glimpse at how magnified these challenges can seem when your body is literally center stage.

With all the attention this recent blockbuster has been generating, you would assume that this dark twisted story would serve as a warning – unfortunately many outlets have glorified the emaciated bodies of Natalie Portman and co-star Mila Kunis as characters Nina and Lily. Both actresses admitted they nearly starved themselves and danced for as many as 8 hours a day to fit into their roles and the tiny bodies of their characters.

Today, media is abuzz with the backlash from this warped message which has been sent to young women everywhere since the movie’s release.

An article, which was published in the online newspaper Huffington Post, today spoke back when the author, Adia Colar, voiced a refreshing opinion.  Angered by the mixed messages in the media lately, she stated the actual facts of the situation as listed below –

Fact: Natalie Portman barely ate while filming the movie.
Fact: Natalie did dance training up to eight hours a day.
Fact: Natalie said there were some nights that she “literally thought I would die.”
Fact: Mila Kunis said that “I would look at myself in the mirror and … all you saw was bone. I was like, This looks gross.”
Fact: Mila said that she began bingeing as soon as she finished filming the movie.

Somehow, despite interviews of both actresses talking about the struggles of playing these roles, these mixed messages that we should look like this continue to be sent to women, perhaps the most vulnerable of all these – teenage girls. In fact, it is believed that nearly 8 million in the U.S. are affected by an eating disorder. Of these, 7 million are women and 1 million are men. So how can you know if your teen is struggling with an eating disorder? First, it’s important to know what you are dealing with. The following are definitions provided by NEDA and are currently the most common eating disorders seen today.

Anorexia Nervosa:
Anorexia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.

Bulimia Nervosa:
Bulimia Nervosa is a serious, potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of bingeing and compensatory behaviors such as self-induced vomiting designed to undo or compensate for the effects of binge eating.

Binge Eating Disorder (BED):
Binge Eating Disorder is a type of eating disorder not otherwise specified and is characterized by recurrent binge eating without the regular use of compensatory measures to counter the binge eating.

There are many different symptoms that may be signs of an eating disorder, than most common of these include, emotional eating, excessive fear of weight gain, weight loss, weight gain, obsessive exercise routines, constant weighing, poor body image, lack of confidence, skipping meals, hair loss and moodiness.

If you know someone suffering from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to get them to admit there is a problem at all, this is just one more reason eating disorder can be so hard to treat. A large amount of denial is often involved.

Eating disorders can be deadly and affect not only the person who has one, but the entire family as well. Talk to your kids about being healthy while not overemphasizing the need to be thin. It’s a fine line to walk, especially when raising girls, but perhaps your best defense against eating disorders is to be a role model for your daughter while keeping an eye out for these signs of a greater problem.


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