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There is an epidemic happening in the United States. It is highly visible, yet it is still largely ignored. It affects women ninety percent of the time but can also affect men, and has been seen recently in younger and younger people (Hesse-Biber et al., 2006). It is an epidemic of eating disorders, and anyone who has lived through the past few decades can see that it has gotten worse. This paper will discuss several ways in which our society has contributed to the increase in eating disorders, namely in the use of visual portrayals of extremely thin women, the proliferation of weight-loss advertising, and the effect of these on one’s immediate socio-cultural network in continuing the obsession with weight. I will focus on women in this paper, though that is not to discount the men who are afflicted with eating disorders. In fact, eating disorders are increasingly affecting men and it is a very serious issue. It is a topic that deserves much more research and comparison with women’s experiences. I will conclude this paper by discussing ways in which we might reverse this epidemic and what is already being done to prevent and eventually end eating disorders.



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