Page last updated at 14:50 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Scrubbing Up: Anorexia

Spine visible on the back of unidentified model

In this week's Scrubbing Up, Dr Alex Yellowlees, a consultant psychiatrist specialising in the treatment of eating disorders, warns that our obsession with size zero celebrities might be fuelling the rise in the number of young girls admitted to hospital with anorexia.

What do you think? Here are some of the comments you have been sending in to this week's Scrubbing Up.


As someone who has previously suffered severely with anorexia nervosa, I cannot emphasise how misunderstood Dr Yellowlees' hypotheses make me feel. I have no interest in celebrities' body shapes or weight and never have. I restricted food and over-exercised to create order in my life and to cope with the chaos that I felt my life was in. My anorexia nervosa had nothing to do with vanity.
Cathy, Leeds

I don't know if I've been influenced directly by celebrity trends but I've suffered from an eating disorder for at least a decade. I'm now trying to recover yet I find myself challenged to ignore the unhealthy obsession with celebrity 'thin'. I can no longer enjoy a magazine for fear that I will be bombarded with eat this, don't eat that, putting me on a perilous path back. I am 28 and have the bones of a 90 year old. I can't have children and I've got kidney damage, all of it a result of anorexia. It's a sad comment on society that more and more people are falling into the 'thin' culture and the devastating impact this is having on our emotional wellbeing.
Anne, Swindon

Men are increasingly under as much pressure to look good

I've been affected by an eating disorder and enduring poor body image for many years, but I think that this article is over-simplified and has completely failed to address the fact that up to 10% of people with eating disorders are men, and that men are increasingly under as much pressure to look as good as their female counterparts.
Anna, London

I am currently suffering from anorexia. I don't think celebrities cause the problem, but confound it as their stick thin images make us believe we are OK and aspire to be like them. The constant propaganda to lose weight, try a new diet, eat the 'low calorie' options from supermarkets makes it too easy to fall into this dangerous illness.
Frances, Cardiff


I'm really sick of this. I am now 42 years old and a natural size 6 to 10 depending on the cut of clothes. I eat what I want and always have done. Over the years I have been called skinny, scrawny, I've been accused of dieting etc. It's okay to pick on skinny people and accuse them of being the root of all ills, but if I turn round and point out that someone else is fat, that's wrong.
Lyn, Basingstoke

Shops that used to stock my size have stopped due to pressure over size zero

I'm a UK size 4. At 5'1'' and 45 kgs I have a healthy BMI and my size and shape is entirely appropriate for someone my height. Not everyone who is small is starving themselves - I have size 1 feet, nature clearly intended me to be tiny. It is frustrating when the only clothes in my size are for kids. Shops that used to stock my size have stopped due to pressure not to promote an "unhealthy size zero". Well, yes, if I was 5'10'', a 24" waist would be unhealthy, but for people my height it simply isn't. I want to dress like an adult woman and celebrate my curves, which is rather difficult if I have to shop in the kids' department. I'm not influenced by celebrities, I was just made this way.
Katie, Belfast

I am fed up of this size zero debate. I find articles on the size zero issue very one-sided. I understand that there are a lot of people who strive to lose weight, with some even developing eating disorders. I am a size 6 and if anything these stories talking about how great curvy women look only lower my self-esteem. I feel like I live in a world where being thin means you are not healthy. I have always had to put up with comments like "You could do with putting on some weight" and "Have you ever eaten a cake?" I think all shapes and sizes should be celebrated, even if they lack curves. If someone is healthy then what does it matter what their shape is?


Models display creation by designer Veronique Nichanian for Hermes
Men face body criticism too

To say that men don't face body criticism in the media is short sighted. Magazines praise women for putting on weight then show them ways to lose it - it's a confusing message. However, if a man without chiselled abs and a perfect tan gets pictured, he's relegated to the 'what's not hot' end of the spectrum. If we're to celebrate body freedom, shouldn't that be genderless?
Ben, Salisbury

On the one hand we have campaigns to reduce people's weight, and on the other we have size zero obsessions. How can we educate people if there are hundreds of magazines promoting a surreal image of female beauty? The UK is a country of extremes; you are either too big or in a bid to slim down, starvation is seen as the only solution - when in reality all it takes is a change on the dietary habits: ie no more McDonalds.
Michelle, Market Harborough

I am a healthy size 12/14 and personally my body icons are the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Ursula Andress. I think that many girls are influenced by the media image of thin is beautiful. However what I also find interesting is that in so many studies about what men find attractive in women is that they all prefer a curvier woman. Why? Because curves are what a women is meant to have! The likes of Victoria Beckham have to get cosmetic surgery to get the curves (breasts) all normal women have! I urge these thin celebrities to have their cake and eat it. You only live once and what kind of life is it that is centred around your weight and food!
Roxanne, Manchester

When I was young I thought I was fat, I was never a size 10, always a 12-14, and admired the skinny sort. Now I realise I had a good curvy figure, pity I didn't appreciate it 20-30 years ago.
Linda, Oxford

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