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Word Count: 1,373
Throughout history and through a cross-section of cultures women have transformed their appearance to conform to a beauty ideal Ancient Chinese aristocrats bound their feet as a show of femininity American and European women in the 1800s cinched in their waists so tightly some suffered internal damage in some African cultures women continue to wear plates in their lower lips continually stretching the skin to receive plates of larger size The North American ideal of beauty has continually focussed on womens bodies the tiny waist of the Victorian period the boyish figure in vogue during the flapper era and the voluptuous curves that were the measure of beauty between the 1930s and 1950s Current standards emphasize a toned slender look one that exudes fitness youth and health According to psychologist Eva Szekely Having to be attractive at this time means unequivocally having to be thin In North America today thinness is a precondition for being perceived by others and oneself as healthy 19 However this relentless pursuit of thinness is not just an example of women trying to look their best it is also a struggle for control acceptance and successIn attempting to mould their appearance to meet the current ideal numerous women are literally starving themselves to death The incidence of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia has doubled during the last two decades Comerci 1294 This increase is no longer limited to women in their teens and twenties but is increasingly diagnosed in patients in their thirties and forties No doubt the current sociocultural emphasis on thinness and physical fitness as a symbol of beauty and success has contributed to this age distribution Comerci 1294One of the negative psychological side effects associated with eating disorders is the patients distortion of their own body imagebody image being defined as the picture a person has in his mind of his own body that is the way his body appears to
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