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Tuesday, 30 May, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Anorexia: A case history
Kate Moss
Women are bombarded by images of thin women
The British Medical Assocation says media images of thin women encourage teenagers to develop eating disorders. A woman who suffered from anorexia tells BBC News Online that the media played a signficant role in her family problems.

"I had anorexia from the age of 14 to about 21. My lowest point was at university where I was only 5 and a half stone. I could hardly walk up stairs.

I had to attend outpatients in a metabolic unit for two years. Basically, all they did was weigh me every few weeks.

I also went to a psychiatrist once. He was very off-putting and treated me like a child (which is one of the things they say anorexics want to remain).

I gradually got myself better, but am still faddish over food.

I think my main problems were linked to my mother and the fact that I had a very unstable childhood, moving around and having several father figures.

I basically saw the anorexia as a form of depression.

But the fact that it took the form that it did was definitely due in large part to my mother and particularly her eating habits and attitude to her body for which the media must bear some responsibility.

She was continuously on a diet when I was growing up and hated putting on any weight, although she has never been fat.

She has cranky eating habits - for instance having a milkshake for lunch and then not eating all day.

It is too simplistic to solely blame the media, but women's unhealthy attitudes to food are all around us

But where did she get those attitudes from? She seemed to go in for every diet under the sun - only eating bananas once week, then eggs, then fibre. It was endless.

The books and media articles kept on coming.

It is too simplistic to solely blame the media, but women's unhealthy attitudes to food are all around us and the media reflects as well as perpetuates them.

Thrusting and ambitious

Nowadays, girls have to be thrusting and ambitious as well as super-attractive, not instead of.

The pressures are immense. And every day the models get thinner and the clothes in the shops get smaller.

They would not look good on anyone over 13 or with any shape to them (except a cleavage).

I can't go into a teenage clothes shop without feeling intensely angry.

I now have a daughter and I am determined to try to stop her having an eating disorder and ensure she eats healthily, rather than getting into the dieting and bingeing cycle.

I will probably fail, but it is such a waste and god knows what the long-term effects are. I was worried one of them would be infertility, but luckily I escaped that."

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30 May 00 | Health
Models link to teenage anorexia
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