Weighing Your Options
by Amber Chang
A group of girls click on Instagram and comes across a beauty-based account that features makeup tutorials as well as fashion hauls. As they are looking through the account pictures, they tap on a model with a skinny figure, then look down at their own bodies and start to pick out their supposed defects through each reflection in the mirror. Their physical flaws start becoming their worst nightmare. Frantically, they search tips on how to lose weight and stumble across the many diet fads posted on the internet. Before you know it, there could be a room of skeletons behind that door.
Anorexia means consuming little to no food but exercising at an extreme amount. Binging and purging are when one binges on food that they would usually restrict themselves to and then forces themselves to throw up the food right afterwards in order to sustain a “healthy” weight. These are just a few of the many horrifying types of eating disorders. Anorexia in specific (though not alone) can often lead to a decrease in blood pressure, heart failure, brittle bones, low energy levels, frequent coldness, fatigue, and overall weakness.
This disorder not only deteriorates people’s bodies, but it can also affects their psychological state. Those who suffer may lose their ability to enjoy the food in front of them. They may start to plan out all of their meals and calculate, obsessively, all the calories they have consumed or will consume that day. This disorder can eventually turn into the controller of this situation.
With technology on the rise, even children as young as eight will be seen carrying the newest smartphones on the market. With the internet at their fingertips or waiting for the command of their voices, it’s a no-brainer that the use of media has increased in recent years. The media has always been an expert on targeting sexuality and the beauty aspect of women. From Barbie to the newest Victoria's Secret model, the appeal being made is a long-term trend that has always been advertised towards adolescent girls and how they must look in order to live up to societal standards and their media stars’ standards. The internet can become a danger even after just a few clicks. It can send someone into a whirlpool of different facts that seem true but may not be. They see the models strutting runways with their long, skinny legs and toned abs and then turn to their own bodies with hatred, despite in many cases already being in good health. They start dieting as young as six years old. And it doesn’t just stop there; those six-year-old girls may have to continue carrying that burden of having to live up to society’s standards until they reach the day when too much becomes too much and their lives are on the line. What’s terrifying about that is that girls as young as that are already expected by media to look a certain way and they are pressured to show off their bodies instead of maintaining their innocence. It can be difficult to pull oneself out of the hole.
Although the male population is also often targeted by advertisers and, as a result, may feel pressured to look like a Calvin Klein model, women often feel more pressured by not only media but from the comments on their Facebook posts or from the general population. According to NEDA, or the National Eating Disorder Association, 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from this distorted thinking to look better for others. An approximately every hour or so in the United States, someone dies from circumstances stemming from an eating disorder. Anorexia is considered to be the highest ranking in danger out of all eating disorders in the United States.
Eating disorders seem to have taken over all the dieting trends. It has become so bad that sometimes even friends can encourage other friends to become anorexic. They might force themselves to work out far more than the meager number of calories they consume can sustain, or decide to go vomit in the bathroom together. The smaller the better. The snugger the better. Peers can be a huge factor in the development of this disorder. A person can easily be convinced to follow a certain type of trend when convinced that they’ll only feel accepted and content with themselves when others say so. And when they finally achieve their unrealistic goals, they might then go on their social media web pages and post pictures that showcase their new weight loss. The deeper that someone falls into the rabbit hole of media influence, the worse that person’s condition becomes, and the psychological component becomes even more twisted.