It is the sad truth that impressionable young girls desire to look the same as models, actresses, and other famous female celebrities they see splashed across every conceivable form of media. A hideously unfortunate side affect of this is that Western media has increased the appeal of eating disorders by establishing a perceived notion about female perfection, indirectly telling young girls that their body type isn’t perfect. Regrettably, this idea of harming ones body to achieve this alleged “perfection” is something that has grown to almost endemic proportions. As a society, we fail to remember that the secret to a healthy lifestyle is not achieved through eating disorders, but rather it’s achieved through healthy eating and exercise.
There are different forms of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia. However, men and women who struggle with eating disorders will face a lifelong battle. The truth is, eating disorders are also combined with a lack of self-confidence and the pressure to conform to societal expectations.
Girls in our society have been socialized to believe that they’re not good enough and, as a result, become filled with self-loathing. Too often when a girl looks in the mirror, her self-confidence is shattered, and she suddenly has an obsession to change her body. According to nationaleatingdisorders.org, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from some form of eating disorders at some point in their life. I personally find it heartbreaking that talented, unique individuals fail to see their own inherent value. However, I do believe that most girls at some point in their life will have a time where they wish they could change a factor in their appearance. After all, the saying goes, “We always want what we can’t have.” I remember when I was little, I would cry because my legs weren’t as long or as skinny as I wanted them to be.
As if the pitfalls of puberty wasn’t enough, the media creates an unhealthy cycle that both men and women fall into — a state in which they are so desperate to change their body that they are willing to do it through unhealthy ways. When girls see their favorite celebrities on the covers of magazines, they get this idea that airbrushed and photoshopped faces are the pinnacle of perfection. In my opinion, we as a society get sucked into the surface perception of many things, including beauty. As Audrey Hepburn once said, “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.” The media needs to focus more on embodying the truth in this quote, and I hope that society will remember the reality of beauty. It’s so sad that eating disorders can cause many to focus on achieving a status of perfection in beauty while the truth remains that facial beauty isn’t permanent, but inner beauty is eternal. However, eating disorders still remain a problem in modern day society, and, unfortunately, they will most likely remain a problem for quite some time.
I think that, in order for eating disorders to be nonexistent, society must appreciate and celebrate individual beauty, and it must lessen the glorification and reverence of “perfect” women on magazines and billboards. The media creates an idea that eating disorders are the only path to achieving perfection. Those who struggle with eating disorders should definitely seek help. Californians can visit one of the Bella Vita treatment centers located in areas such as Los Angeles, Thousand Oaks, and Woodland Hills among others. Another helpful website to learn more about eating disorders and seek treatment no matter where you are is nationaleatingdisorders.org, which provides a free, confidential helpline where people can speak with a volunteer about their concerns.
Eating disorders destroy the self-confidence and health of too many American citizens today. I find it discouraging that — although there is an annual Eating Disorder Awareness Week at the end of February — eating disorders are still an uncomfortable and somewhat taboo subject for many people to discuss. There should be more open discussions about eating disorders because acceptance and acknowledgement of problems lead to productive solutions. Eating disorders are perceived to provide a path to perfection which is nonexistent. Society should stop minimizing beauty through advocacy of photoshopped perfection. Please watch this video to learn more about how eating disorders affect our society.