Bulimia Nervosa - Symptoms

The following are typical symptoms of bulimia nervosa:

  • Eating large amounts of food uncontrollably (binging)
  • Vomiting, using laxatives, or using other methods to eliminate food (purging)
  • Excessive concern about body weight
  • Depression or changes in mood
  • Irregular menstrual periods
  • Unusual dental problems, swollen cheeks or glands, heartburn, or bloating (swelling of the stomach)

The causes of bulimia are many and complex. Could the Barbie doll be one of those causes? Some researchers think so. They point out that Barbie dolls have been one of the most popular toys ever developed and that an untold number of young girls have grown up playing with Barbie. So, in some ways, Barbie may have become a role model for young girls.

But how realistic is Barbie? For years critics have complained that Barbie's measurements are exaggerated. They argue that Barbie's waist was so small and breasts so large that a woman with the same measurements would not be able to stand. The fear is that young girls may begin to think that they should look like Barbie. And if their idea of beauty is being molded by a doll who was incredibly thin and unnaturally shaped, the message may lead to dangerous behavior such as anorexia or bulimia.

Scientists are also wondering if toys can affect the way boys view their bodies. For example, GI Joe has long been a very popular action figure among young boys. Unlike Barbie, GI Joe had a relatively realistic design. For example, the size of the doll's biceps (upper arm) was equivalent to 11 and one-half inch biceps on an adult male. This size falls within normal range for the average adult male.

In 1997, however, a new version of GI Joe was introduced called GI Joe Extreme. The new toy's dimensions increased so that the adult equivalent of his biceps would now measure 26 inches around, which is unnaturally exaggerated. It is interesting to note that also in 1997, Mattel, the toy company that produces both Barbie and GI Joe, announced that it was changing the shape of Barbie. In efforts to create a more realistic Barbie, the new and improved doll has smaller breasts and a wider waist.

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