At the age of 9, my daughter was beautiful and bubbly, intelligent and funny. Always tall for her age, she possessed a body built for strength and she was using that strength to become a decent swimmer.
Nine was a year of significant growth—and a year of doubt. This would be the year that she became more sensitive about how she looked and the size of her clothes. In spite of every bit of praise I could muster about who she was and the amazing things she could do because of her height and strength, she only understood that her body was different from many of the other girls’.
And like many of us, she didn’t like being different. She longed to blend in.
By the age of 6, girls start to express concerns about their weight or shape, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. Approximately half of elementary school girls (ages 6 through 12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat.
The statistics on individuals struggling with eating disorders are startling. In the United States alone, 20 million woman and 10 million men struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder.
What is an eating disorder? I can tell you what it isn’t—a trend, a lifestyle or just a phase someone is going through. It is a serious problem that more often than not requires professional intervention. And the sooner the intervention takes place, the better the treatment outcome tends to be.