ED Awareness

EATING DISORDERS. Did that make you uncomfortable? For many, I’m sure it did. Eating disorders are categorized as mental health illnesses and just like others in that same category, they are considered taboo topics.

By definition, an eating disorder is considered any of a range of psychological disorders characterized by abnormal or disturbed eating habits. This means that being extremely thin is not the only sign of an eating disorder. It doesn’t even have to be a sign at all. That’s right, there is much more to them than that. neda

“You don’t have to look like you have an eating disorder to have one.”

According to the NEDA website and the DSM-5, there are three main types of eating disorders:


  • Inadequate food intake leading to a weight that is clearly too low.
  • Intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behavior to prevent weight gain.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.
  • Inability to appreciate the severity of the situation.
  • Binge-Eating/Purging Type involves binge eating and/or purging behaviors during the last three months.
  • Restricting Type does not involve binge eating or purging, but restricting food intake.


Binge Eating-

  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes.
  • Feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating.
  • Indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behavior.



  • Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviors to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives.
  • A feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes.
  • Self-esteem overly related to body image.


There are also other types classified under the Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) category.

There are many causes of eating disorders. They can be genetic or caused by various psychological issues. Currently, about 30 million people in the United States suffer from an eating disorder; 20 million women, and 10 million men. Not only do these people suffer with eating disorders, but there is also a high comorbidity rate with depression. And sadly, only about 10% of people seek help. Because of this, eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The influence of media has had a direct impact on the statistics of eating disorders. The age of initial diagnosis is steadily decreasing over time. Magazines, toys, peers, and even parents can influence a person’s body image. As the number of cases increase, the amount of research and funding does not correlate. Surprisingly, in 2011 eating disorders received only $.93 per affected individual for research. (Less than one dollar!!!) Other mental illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s averaged $88 per affected individual and Schizophrenia $81 per affected individual. Eating disorder research is extremely underfunded even though it has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness.

Unfortunately, with this lack of funding and research, the topic remains stigmatized in our culture. Directly proportional to the inadequacy is the number of undocumented cases, especially among men who fear social ridicule. With open conversation on the topic, we can destigmatize eating disorders and help those who suffer, cope. It’s easy to look at all of the negatives but instead, here are a few ways to see the positives:

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Culturally Significant:

Although the U.S. has been accused for being notorious for promoting unrealistic beauty standards, it does not top the list of countries with eating disorders. (Ironically, as I typed the last sentence a Victoria’s Secret ad popped up on my screen.) India comes in as the second highest country prevalence, and has seen an enormous increase in cases within the past decade. Topping off the list at number one, is China.

*Finally, if you are curious about learning more information, are worried about a loved one, or if you would like to find help, visit the websites below. You are all ENOUGH.*




Dads Deserve Rights, Too!

All of this talk about midlife, marriage, and children has me thinking. I noticed that a classmate recently posted about women and their right to maternity leave. I began to wonder, “What about the father, though?”. What are their rights after the birth of their child, and how does it compare to that of women?

While researching maternity and paternity leave, I found there to be a broad spectrum of circumstances. Some companies offer mothers paid leave, and some even offer fathers paid leave.  But, only 12 percent of U.S. private sector workers have access to paid family leave through their employer, according to the United States Department of Labor. Most of the time the leave is unpaid with varying time restrictions. These regulations and other stipulations are outlined by the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act).

Strangely enough, the United States is the only remaining industrialized nation that does not at least offer paid maternity leave. Most other countries offer some amount of paid leave for fathers as well.

Culturally Important Facts:

Indonesia provides a 100% payment to mothers and fathers on leave for 84 days. France offers 100% compensation for mothers and fathers on leave for 112 days, as do the Netherlands and Spain. In Brazil, maternity and paternity leave is offered at 100% of original pay for 120 days. The UK only agrees to a 90% payout, but for a whopping 280 days! And here we are in the U.S. with no law on guaranteed paid leave.


Women generally get 12 full weeks of leave, whereas men are commonly afforded 6 weeks, but can get more than that. Men usually take less time on leave due to the need for a steady income to provide for the family’s emerging financial needs. Research has shown that men often do not take leave in fear of occupational repercussions. This idea is rapidly changing as the culture shifts more toward egalitarian parenting. Also, when parents are better supported at work through paid family and medical leave, they are less likely to rely on public assistance benefits.

Astonishingly, twenty percent of employers who are required to offer unpaid paternity leave, simply do not. Those same companies are also more likely to pass over men who do go on leave for promotion opportunities. Even when employers are generous enough to offer paid paternity leave, the social stigma around taking advantage of it seems to outweigh the opportunity. Many men choose to forgo the chance to take paid leave, and if they do, it is only around a week. If they decide to take leave, they are often penalized in various ways for “looking weak”.

While many men do not believe it is ideal to take paternity leave, studies have shown that a longer leave results in a more involved father. This is not just in the initial year of life, but for time to come too. I was surprised by the percentage of men that simply did not choose to take the leave that they were granted. I can understand not wanting to take too much time off if it is unpaid, however most families can afford more than one week of paternity leave. When paid paternity leave is an option on the table, I had hoped that more men would use it. The opportunity to create a special bond with your child early on is an important thing to do, but unfortunately social norms prevent that from happening in many cases.

That’s not to say that all men choose to opt out of paternity leave. One male worker for Facebook was awarded four whole months of paid leave, and gladly chose to take every single day of it. He stated that he did not regret his choice but rather, felt like it was extremely beneficial for his relationship not only with his newborn daughter, but also his wife.

Drinking at a Young Age

We’re young. Everyone drinks, right? WRONG.

Earlier this month, we read supplemental reading 6 which was about drinking at a young age. Personally, I was very intrigued when I saw that drinking at a young age could potentially increase the risk of breast cancer for women. As someone who knows survivors, those who have lost their battle, and considering it is breast cancer awareness month, I decided to take a deeper look into this particular topic.

Research from the reading was based on a study published online by The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found that, on average, young women who regularly consume alcohol before their first pregnancy may be increasing their risk for breast cancer. The research also found that consumption of alcohol while young increased noncancerous breast abnormalities that too, raised the risk of breast cancer. The association between the amount of alcohol consumed was directly related to the percentage of females who obtained breast cancer or breast abnormalities.

After learning some statistics that proved the correlation between early drinking and breast cancer or abnormalities, I wanted to know why it occurred. Further research conducted by the same study showed that the breast tissue of women who have not yet been pregnant is more susceptible to carcinogens. A carcinogen is a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue.

So, if this correlation is actually accurate, why don’t we as students hear about it more often? Why is it not one of the many debates for reasons not to drink at a young age? I really started to question how much truth was in the study so naturally, I went to the internet. I looked up “drinking and how it relates to breast cancer”. I was surprised by how much supporting evidence popped up. It wasn’t just sites that had been created by a biased individual against drinking. There were numerous credible sources at the top of the page.



After learning about this, in my opinion, quite scary information, I began to worry about my fellow peers. Even if they are of legal drinking age, I know that many individuals take it too far. There is a lot of pressure for young women to “keep up with the boys” while drinking. Another factor that is often not considered is the fact that many young men choose beer as their choice of drink, whereas young women tend to prefer the higher concentrated liquor. For example, in my home state of Iowa (that’s the corn state in the Midwest and not the potato state in the West), there was huge publicity covering the story of a young women nicknamed “Vodka Sam”. The story even got national news coverage.

Vodka Sam was extremely intoxicated at an Iowa Hawkeyes football game a few years ago when she decided to run onto the field. Keep in mind that at this time, the University of Iowa was the number one party school in the country. Undoubtedly, she was taken down, arrested, and taken to jail. She blew a .341, which is well over the legal limit, but was proud of it. vodka-sam

Her Twitter feed showed her clear enthusiasm. I was a senior in high school when this happened and I remember everyone thinking she was so funny. She was considered a legend. I can’t believe we thought it was cool. Unfortunately, that is the type of culture we are immersed in during young adolescence and young adulthood. And unfortunately for her, she is at a greater risk for breast cancer and abnormalities, something I’m sure she was unaware of.

Its not just the United States that produces this culture, either. For instance, in Denmark, up to 62% of all boys and 54% of all girls between 11 and 15 years of age had five or more drinks in one day at least once in the month preceding a survey. Many European countries actively promote the introduction of alcohol at a young age. Wine is often offered during the nightly meal, making alcohol not only easily accessible, but also an extremely common choice of drink. Something else that Denmark in particular provides, is a lower drinking age. The national legal minimum age for on-premise sales of alcoholic beverages is 18 and the national legal minimum age of off-premise sales of alcoholic beverages is 16, 18, and 18 for beer, wine, and spirits, respectively.

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Gender Identity

Across all cultures, gender identity is a fundamental aspect of social life. There are different roles and expectations placed upon people in terms of what their gender identity is. Let’s be clear here, and define the difference between gender and sex.

  • Gender (noun): the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones).
  • Sex (noun): either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

So, Gender: Social and Sex: Biological.


Humans are different from other mammals in that we use cultural values to tell us how males and females are supposed to behave. At the age of about 2, children are able to determine their own gender identity based on social cues. At about age 3-4, children then begin to associate various objects, colors, and even jobs as being male or female, something known as gender socialization. Western cultures in general are very strict in their perceptions of gender identity. For example, it is often seen as wrong for boys to be overly emotional or for girls to play rough.

I have always thought that I was very open to the idea of gender fluidity. For instance, I was one of those “tomboy” girls who loved to play outside with boys my age. I enjoyed being rough and tough, getting dirty, and I was never very into things considered to be “girly”. I had a few Barbies, but I rarely played with them. I had short hair and dressed in more athletic clothes than dresses. I was adamant on the idea that I could be able to dress that way and play that way as a child, yet still remain a female.

I’ve also never had an issue with the use of unisex names. I think that a baby should be dressed in whatever color, no matter the sex. I don’t see a problem with buying children toys that are supposedly only for the opposite gender. I think children should have the freedom to actively play and engage with a variety of objects. And I certainly believe that one gender should not be limited in their occupational search. Or, so I thought…

In chapter 6 of the Pearson text, there is a riddle given:

“A little boy and his father were in a terrible automobile accident. The father died, but the boy was rushed to the hospital. As the boy was rushed into surgery, the doctor looked down at him and said, ‘I cannot operate on this boy-he is my son!'”

Instead of simply going on to find out what the answer was, I really thought about it. I was stumped. I really had no clue. (Side note: I had heard this riddle before but I couldn’t remember the answer, which frustrated me even further). I finally decided to give up and read the answer. The doctor was his mother. I was embarrassed. How did I not think of that? Considering that I had already been presented with the riddle previously, I felt so ashamed. Apparently my mind couldn’t imagine the thought of the doctor being a woman, even though I know there are numerous female doctors. I was so focused on the boy and the father that I had completely forgotten about the possibility of the mother being the solution to the question.

I was therefore very intrigued by this idea of gender identity and gender socialization. I consider myself someone who supports equality and fluidity of all genders, yet I couldn’t even correctly answer a simple riddle based on the topics. It just shows that even with the advancements we have made in terms of acceptance of others, our social and cultural contexts are still a huge factor of life. Somehow, gender roles and expectations still find their way inside our minds.

Because gender identity is based on social and cultural values, they are not the exact same across nations. For instance, the Bugis people of Indonesia divide their society into five separate genders rather than two, which is common in Western societies like the United States. We generally have male or female identities (although I recognize more are emerging). The Bugis have cisgender men (oroané), cisgender women (makkunrai), transgender women (calabai), transgender men (calalai), and bissu which is a combination of all aspects genders. In their culture, all of these genders coexist peacefully, something that I don’t think can always be said about genders in other cultures including our own.

*Viewer Discretion is Advised*

Breastfeeding. Such a controversial topic, but why? Why is there so much negativity and stigma placed around this absolutely natural process? One common answer is that a woman’s breast has been so sexualized that many look past what it was originally intended for, providing nutrition to an infant. I can’t believe that I felt the need to title my post as I did, but it’s a real issue. Someone is always offended.

As a young, childless adult I don’t have experience with the act of breastfeeding. I have often wondered and even been asked if I would ever consider it. My answer is always, “Of course, I’ll try it!”. I’m very open to the idea and I realize that not every individual is. Let me just provide a bit of information on what I have found to be beneficial reasons in favor of breastfeeding:

First of all, as a parent you want a healthy baby. Well, breastfed babies are less likely to become sick. There are many essential nutrients and antibodies within breastmilk that help support the immune system. Not only do they get sick less, they also are healthier in general. They have lower rates of asthma, obesity, diabetes, and other health risks.

Another positive to breastfeeding is the recovery process. The uterus will begin to retract to its original size quicker, which is important for the mother’s health and well-being. The release of hormones helping to contract the uterus also helps the woman lose weight quicker, (something most women are in search of), due to the excessive amount of calories being burned.

Breastfeeding saves money. You read that right, it $ave$ money. By reducing, or completely eliminating the amount of formula that is purchased a family can accumulate over one thousand dollars in the first year alone. Not only that, by foregoing formula, you are allowing your baby to get the added fats and nutrients into their diet that they might not otherwise have.

Let’s not forget about the daddies, though. They can still be involved in the process. A woman can pump and store her milk for later usage. The father is then able to bottle feed the infant, while still ensuring the nutritional value.breastfeedingjoke.jpg



One nation in particular has led extreme efforts in promoting breastfeeding, while also working to control the aggressive marketing of formula companies. That is the Philippines. They are one of the leaders in international efforts to promote and protect this right of women. They have invested so heavily in caring for formula-fed children suffering from diarrhea that the World Health Organization (WHO), has estimated their annual spending to reach nearly $23.5 million. The 88% of Filipino babies that are breastfed at birth bring the nation in at one of the highest. Their battle, and the battle of those all over the world is paying off.


Here is where to locate some of the information I have included in my post above:





Developmentally Delayed

As we discuss the various aspects surrounding early human development and what it entails, I was interested in taking a deeper look into the disorder of Autism and how it impairs an individual’s ability to normally develop. Autism is known as a developmental disability that can lead to significant social, communicative, and behavioral challenges. It impacts more than just the individual, but also family, friends, and peers.

There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding Autism because it is not always easily noticeable to the untrained eye. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most individuals do not outwardly show any signs of having the disorder. While it is not easily seen, it can be noticed in other ways and be diagnosed at an early age.

Many times the impairments include difficulty in learning, thinking, and problem-solving. There are ways to cope with the difficulty, however. By focusing on what an individual with Autism is good at and how they prefer to communicate their thoughts or feelings, outsiders are able to get a better idea of how to help. There is much case variability, therefore one method of learning may not work for everyone.

Autism, in fact, is the fastest growing disability in the U.S. currently. There is speculation regarding the idea that Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Andy Warhol, and even Bill Gates were on the Autism spectrum. Even though many well-known people have been noted for possibly having the developmental impairment, and even though it is the fastest-growing developmental disorder, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) only reported to put about 0.55% of its budget in 2012 to research funding for Autism.

While many people know someone inflicted with this disorder, it is not actually all that common. Interestingly enough, the U.S. does not have the highest prevalence of the disorder, but rather it has taken it’s toll on another country. Fun fact: The country with the highest prevalence is Japan, which estimates about 181 cases per 10,000. According to the same website, the United States ranks as the 5th country in terms of Autism prevalence with a rate of 66 in 10,000.

For more information on the facts that I have provided or for further knowledge about Autism, check out the sites provided below!