This is usually a place where I write about poignant, touching moments in life. Today I am reserving my right to talk about something that disturbs and saddens me quite deeply.
I will put this on my list of Top 10 Most Disturbing Stories of the Year. Ok, I don’t have a list like that but I am going to start one. I will also include vaginal cosmetic surgery. You see where I am going.
Briefly, here is the story. Brides-to-be are turning to feeding tube diets, or the K-E diet, for rapid weight loss of 10-20 lbs. in 10 days in order to fit into their wedding gowns. Here’s a novel idea ladies: alter a wedding dress to fit you instead of altering you to fit a dress!
This diet involves inserting a nasogastric tube to ‘feed’ the woman for 10 days; cutting the daily intake to 800 calories. It is described as a hunger-free form of dieting. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this INSANE?
What blows my mind is a 41-year-old woman, Jessica Shnaider, had no problem being featured in this NYT story and then again on most major TV morning news shows. Here are some quotes from this person:
“I don’t have all of the time on the planet just to focus an hour and a half a day to exercise so I came to the doctor, I saw the diet, and I said, ‘You know what? Why not?”
Yeh, I can see why walking around with a friggin’ tube in your nose and not eating for 10 days would be less of a hassle than exercising and healthy dieting!
And then there was this beauty of a soundbite:
“People think I’m sick, I’m dying,” said Ms. Schnaider, a watch wholesaler in Miami. She refrained from going into her daughters’ school. “The children, they would be scared,” she said.
The adults that she knew were not scared by this behavior? Let me think of one adult that should have been running to catch the next train out of crazy town – THE KNUCKLEHEAD WHO WAS ABOUT TO MARRY HER. And did you catch the fact that she has a daughter?! Is there any hope for this young girl?
What is so disturbing about this diet is the doctors who are willing do facilitate it. Is the $1,500 that much of an incentive in the days where health insurance has shaved down the profitability of a medical practice? Here is a quote from a doc who might think they are tempering this with some solid advice:
“I don’t want to tell a bride she shouldn’t look good for the wedding,” Dr. Aronne said. “But we tell them, ‘You can get to the same place if you started earlier, instead of waiting until the last minute and doing something drastic.’ ”
How responsible, doc. How about something we rarely hear these days… the word NO and a referral to a good therapist to work out these debilitating body image issues and help these women to start their marriages on a healthy note instead of sending them right down the road of serious problems.
I have both a son and a daughter. This story disturbs me on so many levels. I don’t know which would worry me more, my daughter wanting to do this or my son marrying someone who did. Imagine these women raising kids.
Let me remove my outrage for a moment and get down to why this has me so inflamed. I have watched too many woman fall down this hole. Not just young women, but those who are at an age where you would hope they would finally get over their value being tied to how thin they are. I can sadly say that I count more women of all ages in the category of poor relationships with food than not. The scary thing about this therapy is it could be argued that it is ‘healthier’ than most eating disorder related behaviors because at least there is an attempt at nutrition, it is doctor-supervised and it is only short term. How sad is that?
Some sobering statistics from The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, Inc. (please see this link for sources). I have picked only a few, but the ones that struck me as the most appalling.
- Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness amongst adolescents
- Almost 50% of people with eating disorders meet the criteria for depression
- Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the US
- Over one half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives
- In a survey of 185 female students on a college campus, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and of the 83% that dieted for weight loss, 44% were of normal weight
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner and 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat
This last one saddened me the most. It is starting at such an early age. The little girl that dreams of her wedding day and then sticks a tube down her nose to lose weight could most likely have been carrying this baggage since she was 7 years old.
How do we stop this madness?
Here is a start. Anya Strzemien of Stylist wrote this fabulous post. Women and men alike, please make this required reading for you, your friends, your daughters and most importantly anyone you worry about regarding risky body image and eating issues. In short, Ms. Strzemien implemented a tip jar to fine anyone in the office who says something negative about their appearance. The fine is $1 for every negative comment someone makes, with proceeds going to Girls Inc, an organization that promotes self-esteem and leadership skills for young girls. She took it one step further and flipped the focus to a positive one by using the comments section of her post to ask readers to say something good about themselves. In return, the Huffington Post Media Group will donate $1 for every comment up to $5,000.
Let that be the kind of behavior we ask our daughters to imitate and leave the feeding tubes to the minority!