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Hi! My name is Cara and I am a 17 year old dancer. This past year I have started dancing 4 hours per day and in the beginning I wasn't worried about my weight. But then I began worrying and starting counting every calorie I ate. Sometimes I overeat and then feel terrible about myself and so I fast for the next day or even more. I am constantly thinking about food. I can't feel normal about it and I am worried that I have a problem. I want to lose weight but my friends and family tell me that I don't need to. I think that they are wrong. Please offer me some advice because I am scared about what is going to happen. Thank you!

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM. I'm not a physician--nor a mental health provider, so I can't give you an official diagnosis. (FYI--I said mental health provider, because eating disorders are classified under mental health.) However, I am a young woman who did have an eating disorder (bulimia--when I felt like I ate too much I would make myself vomit), so I can offer my own experience as well as that of others that I see through FEMINIST.COM and friends.

One of the most obvious signals of eating disorders is an inability to see yourself as you really are--hence the reason that you think you aren't thin enough and others think you are perfect. Another signal is that your weight becomes an obsession. That said, I am worried about you. I think that you should listen to your body. You are a dancer, so, one, you need to sustain yourself, and, two, given this amount of daily exercise, I'm sure that you will find a natural balance. Going to extremes--i.e. binging and starving will hurt you and eventually your dancing career. I hope that you will listen to your friends and family --- and to yourself. Please keep healthy and see a doctor if you don't think that this is possible. You are not only starving yourself of calories, but of nutrition and strength. Eat, dance and I'm sure you will find a balance. Take care of yourself.


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