Body Image Research Paper

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					Elizabeth Bledsoe


LS 300


         In Hollywood, California there has been talk of eating disorders and plastic

surgery and how they affect people. The science of eating disorders and plastic surgery is

important to look at and research. People need to see the reality behind celebrity eating

disorders and cosmetic surgery. The media plays a big part in showing which celebrities

has eating disorders or has had cosmetic surgery. The media skews the reality of the

situations of the celebrities. There are eating disorders that are hurtful to the body and

cosmetic surgeries that have devastating side effects. The media does not show what the

side effects are. This paper will be talking about what the side effects are in eating

disorders and cosmetic surgeries.

Research on Eating Disorders:

         There are three main eating disorder types. According to Palme, (2008) the three

main eating disorders are Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating. People

can also suffer from Partial Syndrome, (Palme 2008) which is a combination of the three

eating disorders. Palme describes Bulimia Nervosa as a person eating a lot and quickly

eating and then follows the eating with “vomiting, fasting, exercise, laxatives or medicine

in order to avoid an increase in weight” (2008). He describes Anorexia Nervosa as not

eating enough food to have a normal weight and the person is afraid to be fat and has

incorrect views on their weight (2008). He describes Binge Eating as eating too much

food (2008).
       There are many aspects that can cause eating disorders. According to Walsh and

Devlin (1998) cultural factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder.

Anorexia Nervosa can be caused from young people being obsessed about their body

image and the disorder has been around for over 300 years (Walsh, Devlin 1998).

Bulimia Nervosa has been recently acknowledged as an eating disorder and is from the

same obsession of body image especially in weight gain and loss (Walsh, Devlin 1998).

Eating disorders in celebrities can be hurtful to the youth that look up to them, especially

if they think that a celebrity is struggling with an eating disorder. The youth may be

more inclined to think that it is a good idea, when in reality it is harmful to the body.

Eating disorders are harmful and are caused from the people’s image of the way their

body should look.

       There has been some research that indicates some biological and genetic factors in

acquiring an eating disorder. According to Kaye, (1999) eating disorder patients have

new ways to combat their eating disorders through new medications that modify

serotonin activity to help people fight their eating disorders. Although, it has been more

helpful for people with Bulimia Nervosa than people with Anorexia Nervosa because

people with Anorexia Nervosa are usually underweight and it confuses the body, when it

is underweight (Kaye 1999). According to Kaye, (1999) there are genetic factors that can

either benefit or deter having an eating disorder because of a twin study that was done

that showed a correlation to heredity in eating disorders. Krom, Bauer, Collier, Adan and

Fleur looked at that same twin study and found a connection to eating disorders and

genetic function of “meal size, frequency, satiation and hunger, and taste preference” (pp.

286, 2009). There have been animal studies that show the connection of Anorexia
Nervosa and body hair growth as being a side effect (Krom, Bauer, Collier, Adan and

Fleur 2009). Genetics are connected to eating disorders as discussed above.

       There are physical side effects of eating disorders other than the obvious of losing

weight. According to Mortimer, “cardiac complications are the most common side

effects of eating disorders” (2007). Eating disorders can cause Arrhythmia is an irregular

heartbeat (Mortimer 2007). People with Anorexia Nervosa can acquire bradycardia, a

state where the heart does not beat fast enough (Mortimer 2007). Heart failure and liver

failure cause the most deaths of people who suffer Anorexia Nervosa (Mortimer 2007).

People who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa can have electrolyte disorders and imbalances

(Mortimer 2007). Electrolyte imbalances can develop into “fuzzy” thinking, organ

failure, and arrhythmia. Laxatives can give people who suffer from Bulimia Nervosa

colon problems (Mortimer 2007). Binge eating can lead to obesity with in turn can lead

to Type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and sleep apnea (Mortimer 2007). Overall

eating disorders cause serious damage to the body.

       According to, (2008) at least 15 celebrities suffer from eating

disorders. The media makes a huge impact on how people perceive themselves. The 15

celebrities who suffer from eating disorders are Nicole Richie, Felicity Huffman, Tracy

Gold, Allegra Versace, Fiona Apple, Katharine McPhee, Mary Kate Olsen, Paula Abdul,

Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey, Karen Carpenter, Wynonna Judd, Sharon Osbourne,

Lara Flynn Boyle and Victoria Beckham. There are more celebrities that suffer from

eating disorders but do not talk about it.

Research on Cosmetic Surgery:
       There are two particular cosmetic surgeries that are interesting to discuss: breast

augmentation and liposuction. Breast augmentation is a very common surgery in

Hollywood, although majority of celebrities are probably not informed in the long-term

effects of breast augmentation. According to Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer, there is a

correlation between implants and the risk of cancer in patients who have had breast

augmentation (1994). These researchers have studied some studies on animal and human

experiments in regards with implants and its connection to cancer. These authors have

found more connection to silicone being injected into the breast as being more dangerous

(1994). The person who has had breast augmentation is likely to acquire cancer later in

life (Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer 1994). Berkel, Filius, Dik and De Boer did notice a

delay in diagnosis of breast cancer in patients who have had breast augmentation (1994).

These authors also found a correlation between implants and connective tissue disorders

(1994). Breast augmentation is a procedure that can have hurtful effects but also can be

aesthetically pleasing to people.

       Liposuction can have major side effects. Liposuction removes fat from areas

around the body. According to, after liposuction surgery one

may experience “localized swelling, bruising, pain, minimal scarring and numbness in the

treated area” (2009). On the other hand, these side effects go away after a few week after

the operation. According to, during the procedure one could

have an “allergic anesthetic reaction, infection, fluid imbalance, skin necrosis or death,

damage to internal organs and burns” (2009). Liposuction is not for everyone. It can be

dangerous but the gains of less fat can be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Cosmetic

surgery can be dangerous but it is a risk some people are willing to take.

       Eating disorders and cosmetic surgery are seen all over Hollywood and in

celebrities. It is important to understand what the risks are before going through cosmetic

surgery. It is also important to understand the effects of eating disorders and how to

combat them so the youth does not acquire them. Eating disorders are dangerous and

cosmetic surgeries can be, too.
References List:

1. Berkel, J., Filius, P.M.G., Dik, E., and Boer, A.D. (1994). Long term heath effects of

breast augmentation: A review. Pharmacoepidemiology Drug Safety. 3(5): 265-273.

2. Devlin, M.J. and Walsh, T. (1998). Eating disorders: Progress and problems. Science,

580(5368), 1387-1390. doi:10.1126/science.280.5368.1387

3. Kaye, W.H. (1999). The New biology of anorexia and bulimia nervosa: Implications

for advances in treatment. European Eating Disorders Review. 7: 157-161.

4. Krom, M.D., Bauer, F., Collier, D., Adan, R.A.H., and Fleur, S.E.L. (2009, April 16).

Genetic variation and effects on human eating behavior. Annual Review of Nutrition, 29,

283-297. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-080508-41124

5. Mortimer, N. (2007, March 8). The Physical side effects of eating disorders. Retrieved

November 4, 2009, from Mount Holyoke News website:


6. Palme, G. (2008, August 15). Different kinds/types of eating disorders. Retrieved

November 4, 2009, from Web Health Info website:


7. 15 Celebrity eating disorders that make you want to vomit. (2008, April 7). Retrieved

November 3, 2009, from CustomizedGirl Blog website:

8. Liposuction- side effects after the procedure. (2009). Retrieved November 3, 2009,

from Health Search Online website:


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