When one thinks of women with eating disorders, one likely thinks of women who work in the fields of modeling, acting, dancing or entertainment, rather than women in the armed forces.
However, women across all spectrums of the armed forces, especially the navy, experience difficulties maintaining their weight through healthy practices. This struggle can lead to the development of an eating disorder.
Causes for Eating Disorders in the Navy
The navy is notorious for placing incredibly high expectations on individuals as they represent the United States of America. These pressures, plus many more caused by the job itself, can lead to women in the navy developing eating disorders. The following are some of the causes of eating disorders in the navy:
- Pressure to meet an approved body image – The navy, like many other divisions of the U.S. armed forces, conducts frequent physical check-ins where each individual must meet the weight requirements that the navy deems acceptable. Many women begin binge eating, starving themselves or purging before these check-ins to ensure they can meet standards and avoid being reprimanded by their superiors.
- Need for control – When in the navy, women often experience a great deal of stress related to their job, especially if they are on the front lines and bear witness to acts of violence. Even though the navy is highly regarded as being extremely structured, women in the navy often desire to obtain control of something in their lives. They may feel that everything around them is controlled by outside factors. This mindset often leads to the development of an eating disorder as a response to feeling out of control.
- Deployment stress –When deployment occurs, many women struggle with leaving behind their families, especially if they have children of their own. The stress associated with deployment can cause women to turn to binge eating or starving themselves as a means of coping with the emotions they have surrounding their deployment.
Striving to maintain the accepted body image, attempting to gain control and trying to cope with stress, many women in the navy battle an eating disorder as a result of the pressures from their environment.
Since eating disorders are becoming so prevalent in the navy and other armed forces, there is a much wider range of treatment options for women who are experiencing these issues. Reaching out to a local VA or other armed forces hospital can allow these women to get the help they need.