Eating disorders

Deadly, pervasive and triggered by "garden-variety" dieting (35% of normal dieters progress to pathological dieting and, of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders), eating disorders typically begin in adolescence or early adulthood.

  • "Anorexia: It is estimated that 1.0% to 4.2% of women have suffered from anorexia in their lifetime. Anorexia has the highest fatality rate of any mental illness. It is estimated that 4% of anorexic individuals die from complications of the disease.

  • Bulimia: It is estimated that up to 4% of females in the United States will have bulimia during their lifetime, of which 3.9% will die.

  • Binge Eating: 2.8 % of American adults will struggle with binge eating during their lifetime.

Alcohol Abuse

According to a report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, low self-esteem and poor body image are linked to increased alcohol use. Teenage girls with low self-esteem or low self-confidence are twice as likely as those with higher self-confidence to report alcohol use.

Additionally, girls who perceive themselves as being overweight, are actively trying to lose weight, or who engage in unhealthy (excessive) dieting behaviors drink more alcohol than girls with healthier weight-related attitudes and behaviors. Girls ages 10 to 15 who report being highly concerned about their weight are nearly twice as likely to get drunk as those who are less concerned about their weight.

For teen girls, alcohol increases the likelihood of suicide, violence and unsafe sex:

  • Suicide: Teenage girls who drink frequently are almost 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than girls who never drink, and girls who are diagnosed with alcohol use disorders are twice as likely to have attempted suicide.

  • Violence: Teenage girls who drink are at increased risk of being victims of dating violence such as shoving, kicking, punching and rape.

  • Unsafe Sex: Alcohol use is one of the best predictors of sexual activity and risky sexual behavior among teens. Those who drink are more likely to have sexual intercourse, to have it at an earlier age, to have sex with more partners than teens who do not drink, and to have unprotected sex.

Early Onset of Sexual Activity & Teen Pregnancy

Notwithstanding alcohol use, self-esteem impacts sexual behavior among girls. Low social self-worth increased the likelihood of girls reporting moderate intimate behaviors compared with girls reporting none; girls who had high self-esteem in seventh grade were 3 times more likely to have remained virgins than were girls with low self-esteem.

Additionally, a review of the literature on the link between teenage pregnancy and self-esteem concluded that the risk of teenage motherhood is raised - possibly by up to 50% - among teenage girls with lower self-esteem than their peers. (Precisely why low self-esteem has this effect is as yet unclear, but it is thought to be linked with an increased likelihood of unprotected intercourse.)


Thirteen percent of women smoke to lose weight and, according to the American Lung Association, "Teenage girls often start to smoke to avoid weight gain and to identify themselves as independent and glamorous, which reflect images projected by tobacco ads. Social images can convince teens that being slightly overweight is worse than smoking. Cigarette advertising portrays cigarettes as causing slimness and implies that cigarette smoking suppresses appetite."

Economic Impact

  • Approximately 17.7 million cosmetic surgical and nonsurgical procedures were performed in the United States in 2018; total expenditures were $16.5 billion. 16,507,440,034.

  • Americans spend north of $60 billion annually to try to lose weight, on everything from paying for gym memberships and joining weight-loss programs to drinking diet soda.

  • If a woman invested the average amount she spends on a monthly manicure/pedicure ($50) into her retirement account every year for ten years, she would have almost $10,000 in her account.

  • One full year of tuition and fees at an instate public college is equal to almost five years of $100 a month normally spent on beauty products.