This week is eating disorder awareness week, and it brings to mind the questions; How much do people really know about eating disorders as well as their views of people who suffer from them? Eating disorders are not just physical, but also stems from genetic, biological, behavioral, psychological and social issues. They can happen to anyone, and we unfortunately live in a society that often times, pushes people towards such mental hardships.
The media is teaching us what images they consider to be perfection with the knowledge that most men and women will never look this way. It’s no secret that woman make up the majority of those affected by eating disorders. Men can also be affected just as easily, especially now that we are being taught that we aren’t what society deems “beautiful” at younger and more susceptible ages. And the worst part of it is, the adult culture that is critiquing themselves are doing it in front of our youth and that’s the first step to them realizing they don’t fit a certain mold.
A child doesn’t know that there are negative opinions to looking a certain way. Children don’t fully grasp what it means to be fat, or skinny, or have big hips, or a small bust, or not be muscular enough, or tall enough, or even too tall. To them, mom and dad, aunts and uncles, the important adults in their lives, they are their idea of perfection. What is more perfect to a child than their mother and father, whose presence alone makes them feel loved and special? Children watch everything their role models do, including self-critique. When a mom steps in front of a mirror and says the things she doesn’t like about herself, that child immediately looks at themselves and wonders if those things in them are hated as well. If their perfect person dislikes their own imperfections, how can the children ever hope to be “perfect?” They can’t anymore, because to them, their idea of perfection has disappeared.
We’re setting ourselves up for a society of people striving for flawlessness that will never exist. People aren’t meant to be flawless. Flaws are what make everyone different. Once people accept their insecurities, the unattainable magazine covers won’t control their lives, and the lives of the people they inspire. Changing how you perceive yourself is a difficult feat, but it is worth attempting to protect the self-worth of the youth who will look up to you.
Eating disorders commonly happen in individuals looking for control. Binge eaters have a hard time controlling themselves from not eating more than they should. People affected by Anorexia nervosa try to control how they look, because no matter they’re size, in their minds, they will always be too big. Control means everything, because it can be almost impossible to achieve. But this is where we need to act. If we can control what our own ideals are on of how we should look, we can control our own self-image. No one person or body type is without fault, so it’s time to convince ourselves of that. Only then can we make progress towards combating at least the social causes of eating disorders and work toward a healthier looking tomorrow.