Dear Annie: I know that anorexia is not uncommon in teenage girls, but I never thought I would see the signs in my best friend. “Emmy” always complains about the way she looks and is constantly focused on her weight. She makes sure everyone else eats, but I rarely see her put a bite in her mouth. She denies that she has a problem, but all her clothes are baggy, and you can see her bones sticking out.
Everyone, even people who just met her, ask me if she is anorexic. Emmy is six inches taller than I am and weighs less – and my doctor says I am underweight. Last month alone, she dropped 20 pounds.
How can I help her? I want to talk to her mom, but I don’t know how to bring it up. – Not that Skinny
Dear Not: Emmy is lucky to have you as a friend. Too many teenagers with eating disorders are left alone until the problem becomes life threatening. It’s also possible that something else is going on with Emmy, but the sooner this is addressed, the sooner she can be helped.
First talk to Emmy and urge her to discuss this with her parents. If nothing changes, you can speak to her mom, saying, “I’m worried about Emmy. She doesn’t seem to be eating normally, and she’s lost a lot of weight.” You also can alert your own parents, and when school resumes, talk to the school nurse or counselor and urge Emmy to do so, as well. And please contact the National Association of Anorexia and Associated Disorders ( anad.org) for more information.