Paula Abdul have Bulimia

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                       Paula Abdul: Bulimia Nervosa

                                  By Elizabeth Bauer

                                    April 20, 2004

                           Abnormal Psychology, 303-001

                                  For Michael Young

                            Paula Abdul: Bulimia Nervosa

       Paula Abdul was born the second of two daughters to Harry and Lorraine

Abdul on June 19, 1963 in San Fernando, California. Ever since she was little she

always had the desire to please everyone. When her parents divorced at the age of

seven it shook Paula up. She loved to dance and started dance lessons at the age of

eight but she would always compare with the other girls because she was short and

stocky and all the others were tall and thin. At one point her dance instructor used

Paula as an example of body structure differences in front of class. "She pointed out
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that my body was different," says Abdul. "I had such a feeling of shame. From then

on I never felt right (Close to you, 2004)."

       At 15 she went to a dance camp for further training in dance; it was here

where Paula learned how her dance partners all stayed so thin, they would make

themselves vomit any food that was eaten. Even though her friends all did it Paula

didn‟t start making herself vomit until she was 16 and had stuffed herself at a

Mexican restaurant with her cheerleading squad. From the first time she did it she

knew that this would be a perfect way to keep her weight down. She would binge eat

and then make herself throw it all up or she would exercise for hours until she felt

like she worked it all off. During her first year of college she applied to be a

cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers and was accepted. She was soon promoted to

choreographer because of her gift in dancing.

       Soon she tried singing and was signed on with Virgin Records where she had

3 number one hits. With so much fame Paula felt like she had to stay thin. At one

point during a rehearsal she said, "I felt nervous and out of control, and all I could

think about was food. Food numbed the fear and anxiety. I'd eat, then run to the

bathroom (Close to you, 2004)."

       The diagnosis proposed is Bulimia Nervosa. To be diagnosed with bulimia a

person must display the symptoms listed in the DSM-IVcriteria listed below.

   DSM-IV Criteria for Bulimia Nervosa
       A.      Recurrent episodes of binge eating. An episode of binge eating is
               characterized by both of the following:(1) Eating, in a discrete period
               of time (eg, within any 2-hour period), an amount of food that is
               definitely larger than most people would eat during a similar period of
               time and under similar circumstances. (2) A sense of lack of control
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               over eating during the episode (eg, a feeling that one cannot stop
               eating or control what or how much one is eating).
       B.      Recurrent inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent
               weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting; misuse of laxatives,
               diuretics, enemas or other medications; fasting or excessive exercise.
       C.      The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both
               occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months.
       D.      Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight.
       E.      The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of
               anorexia nervosa.

       Paula displayed all of these criteria. A Criterion A gives the description of

what binge eating is. Paula matched the description by eating large amounts of food

at one time; a lot more then one person can or should eat. She would then purge all

the food out of her system by forcing herself to throw up the food. Criterion B states

that a victim must use some prevention to gaining weight; this was done by self-

inducing vomiting. She had bulimia for close to 20 years constantly making herself

throw up after she would binge or when she felt guilty about eating something she

didn‟t think she should eat. This all came about because she felt like she was a lot

bigger then the rest of the girls she danced with and she thought that if she gained

weight she wouldn‟t fit in. This fulfills Criterion D in the DSM-IV because mostly

her weight and body shape influenced her self-evaluation. She did not have anorexia

nervosa so Criterion E does not relate.

       There are two different types of Bulimia Nervosa according to the DSM-IV:

   Specify Type:
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       Purging type: During the current episode of bulimia nervosa, the person has
       regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse of laxatives,
       diuretics or enemas.
       Nonpurging type: During the current episode of bulimia nervosa, the person
       has used inappropriate compensatory behaviors, such as fasting or excessive
       exercise, but has not regularly engaged in self-induced vomiting or the misuse
       of laxatives, diuretics or enemas.

       Paula had episodes of both types of bulimia. The one she showed the most

was the purging type because she would almost always purge the food that she had

just binged on. At other times Paula would withhold from food and exercise for up to

four hours per day trying to burn off the food that was just eaten. "I used to be a

fanatic, I used to exercise four or five times a day (Don Lemmon, 1997).”

       Paula was so conscious about her weight it is rumored that “she had

photographs and videos carefully doctored to slip her thighs and waistline (Psaroudis,

1997).” Victims suffering from bulimia are usually of normal weight; it is hard to

know if someone is suffering from bulimia unless they come out and say it. In 1994

Paula checked herself into a clinic in Tulsa, Kansas after being a victim of this eating

disorder for around 20 years. Now Paula employs a food nutritionist to make sure that

she eats right and doesn‟t fall back into the bad habit. She keeps herself fit by doing

cardiovascular exercises and now has dance work out videos. She is now one of the

co-hosts of the Fox TV show American Idol.

       In summarization Paula Abdul grew up her whole life feeling inferior to girls

her age that were around her. After being made an example by her dance teacher of

the difference of her body compared to that of other girls she always felt like she

would have to work hard to „be normal‟ like the rest of the girls. The life of a

celebrity is always in the public eye. Paula Abdul is a dancer, choreographer, singer,
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and actress, these careers demand of celebrities to be skinny. When at the age of 16

Paula found a way to keep a skinny figure by vomiting the food that was eaten it was

hard to go back. She battled with this eating disorder for almost 20 years until she

asked for help.

       The behaviors that Paula shows coincide with that of the DSM-IV criteria of

bulimia nervosa. She showed the purging behavior more then that of nonpurging even

though she had bouts with both of them. This behavior was a large part of her life

until she took hold of it and looked for help. Now she is eating healthy and back on

track with her life but she will never forget the twenty years she went through battling

a very dangerous disorder, Bulimia nervosa.


Articles on Eating disorders: Paula Abdul (n.d). People Online. Retrieved April 16,
        2004 from: 2:

The Beauty of Paula Abdul: Close to the Heart (2004). Freewebs. Retrieved April
      4, 2004 from:

Don Lemmon (1997). Celebrities with eating disorders. Most Popular Models.
      Retrieved April 6, 2004 from:

DSM-IV Criteria for Bulimia Nervosa (2003)[electronic version]. Retrieved
     April 16, 2004 from The Cleveland Clinic Foundation:
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Dustin Drorbaugh (2004). Paula Abdul. The Official Paula Abdul Fan Site.
       Retrieved April 4, 2004 from:

Yiannis Psaroudis (1997). pAula abDul. Diva Station. Retrieved April 4, 2004

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