Anorexia nervosa may affect as many as five to ten percent of
adolescent girls in the United States, and on some college
campuses, the estimate is as high as twenty percent. Despite its
recent "popularity", however, the disease remains puzzling in its
causes and stubbornly resistant to a cure. For, as Fasting Girls
demonstrates, anorexia nervosa existed long before our current
preoccupation with lean bodies.
This landmark, award-winning work offers a solution to the
mystery of anorexia nervosa, exploring its historical roots from
the fasting saints of the Middle Ages and the curious "fasting
girls" of the Victorian era to the weight-obsessed celebrities of
our own time. By linking broad cultural forces to individual
biomedical and psychological factors, Fasting Girls shows how a
society that believes a woman "can never be too rich or too thin"
actually recruits certain adolescents to anorexia -- those who
regard a thin body as a state of perfection. Combined with other
social stresses, such an attitude puts an increasing number of
contemporary young women at risk.
Highly readable and authoritative, Fasting Girls takes the
reader into the private world of sufferers in the past, and also
shows today's health professionals and parents why America's young
women are so vulnerable to anorexia, and what treatments have
proven effective in combating this frequently misunderstood, often
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