www.whyville.net Oct 24, 2002 Weekly Issue

Help on the Web

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Help on the Web

Times Writer

It's evident that being a teenager is extremely difficult. Experiencing the world as you go through constant changes both physical and mental can make a person feel isolated from the rest of the world. School offers stress and peer pressure, as well as the need to fit in and to find your own social niche. Struggling with rules from parents and teachers can be a pain, and worrying about the future makes you feel nervous and uncomfortable.

The media sheds much pressure onto teenagers today. Television, movies, and magazines all exploit teenagers by telling them what they should and should not be. How to dress, act, and feel. Headlines of magazines say "10 Ways to Get a Boy" and "Fall Fashion that You Must Have". They are explaining to us that we must be perfect -- as they define perfection. We must talk, dress, and act a certain way in order for us to be liked by others. Just being yourself is a phrase that has been almost abolished. The Internet is another source of media for teenagers. Many teens spend several hours a week on the Internet, and right now you are on the Internet as well. Waifs on the web have been a constant challenge and here is an example of one.

Have you ever come across a pro-anorexia site? They actually exist! I am not anorexic (although you might say that the reason for that is because I am male. That assumption is not true, though -- many males go through eating disorders as well). It is hard to see a picture of a skinny model in a magazine or on the television and feel as if you have to look like that individual. Many pro-anorexic (also known as pro-ana) web-sites explain that they want their viewers skinny, not dead. However, the real realization is that a person can die from not eating. Period. Your body needs food to survive. Graphic pictures are shown of people literally skin and bones to explain what the "perfect" person is supposed to look like.

You probably know that anorexia is a disease and you need help to fight it. People who suffer from it can experience sight, hearing, and breathing problems. However, don't let these disturbing web-sites stop you from seeking help for anorexia over the web. Although they don't actually give you real medical advice, they do provide more information on the subject matter. If you are interested in learning more, try checking out these (much better) websites:

  • www.youngwomenhealth.org/eating_disorders.html This is a good place to start finding information. It includes data on the causes and symptoms of eating disorders.
  • www.edap.org This is the national Eating Disorders Association's Web Site and excels in offering information of anorexia. However, this web-site mainly concentrates on young boys. Did you know that about 10% of those suffering from anorexia and bulimia are male?
  • www.prairiepublic.org/features/healthworks/disordered/index.htm Are you concerned and think that a family member or friend might have an eating disorder? Then try going to the Test Your Knowledge section of this web-site. It offers different role-playing exercises on how to comfort someone who might be sick.

Discovering and dealing with your sexuality may also be a difficult time. Especially when you find out that you may be homosexual or bisexual. Probably one of the hardest things that you have to do is explain this to someone. Perhaps you may feel like no one will accept or befriend you. The media is also not helpful on this subject. Many powerful individuals (such as politicians) are trying to stop same-sex marriages from happening in Canada and in the United States. However, it is my opinion that as hard as people try to stop it, this problem won't go away. You just cannot take away a person's believes, thoughts, or feelings. On the web, there are many sites that offer advice for those struggling with finding their sexuality. Try this one out:

  • www.gaystudentcenter.org This web-site offers advice and support and will give you some feedback on any questions that you may have. There is also an interaction section of the web-site that allows you to talk with others who are experiencing the same feelings and going through the same things as yourself.

Don't forget that you can find help from a close friend, family member, or counselor at your school. Don't even hesitate to consult a teacher. Many of them will keep the things that you tell them between the two of you (unless it is physically harmful to another person). Don't feel as if anything is your fault. Remember that there are thousands of young teenagers who are going through the same problems as yourself. You aren't alone.



Editor's Note: Standard disclaimer -- Whyville and Numedeon, Inc. are not associated with any of the above websites or organizations, and that they may have different policies on privacy, etc, especially the Gay Student Center, which appears to be loaded down with ads and chat rooms not appropriate for our younger citizens. That said, they all appear to be striving towards good things, and that's cool. But stay safe, everybody!



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