- Mental Health
Eating Disorders - Stop Promoting Them!
Eating Disorders and Negative Body Image
Gender and sexuality play a huge role in society and bring up extreme amounts of controversy when discussed. Gender typing explains the possible differences in development from girls to boys. Society constantly talks about and fights for the ideal body. Body image and eating disorders stand as a growing epidemic and affect millions of females around the world. While people regard eating disorders and body image issues as a woman’s problem, these problems affect many males in society. The media works against society so indirectly that many individuals do not even notice the harm caused.
As I sit here and think about recovery, I cannot help but think about those individuals who have not even given one thought to recovery. Beginning recovery can be so terrifying and seem so counterproductive to what the majority of population tells us about our bodies and what they should look like. Instead of consuming food, we let it consume us. I pick up a magazine, turn on the television, overhear a conversation at a coffee shop, basically blink my eye and I hear something about weight-loss. How can someone make the decision to actually focus on eating and abandon the perception that food equals failure and skinny equates to accomplishment, when media indirectly tells us to follow that idea? I feel such shame that we live in a world where society tells women to betray their basic needs in attempt to attain what people believe to be the perfect body. While eating disorder advocates continue to make progress in raising awareness about these issues, the ideals media and society set counteract positive advocacy.
I am currently in treatment for my eating disorder, something that I have let consume me since age eight. The media constantly spits out information about how your body should look, what you should be eating, and what steps you should take to change your body. While I am in treatment, I am given the opportunity to partake in a nutrition group that works to explain the mindset of society and why it needs to stop.
The FDA recently made a change to the nutrition label. The focus always works to tell people to have fewer fats, more carbs, mostly protein. No, now you have to have fewer carbs, load up on protein still, and fats are not all bad. For years, the FDA has changed what people should and should not be eating certain amounts of. For people with eating disorders, developing or happening currently, look at these labels and find new numbers to obsess over, when really, people should focus on mindful and intuitive eating.
Pre-puberty and perimenopause act as two of the most critical time periods of a women’s body development. Naturally, both of these periods result in weight gain in order to store the hormones needed to start your menstrual period, and on the other end, store hormones to replace your menstrual cycle. Weight gain during these times helps our bodies stay healthy, but the media we see and the body type we put on a pedestal fight against what keeps us healthy. Our bodies have a set point, and when below that set point, we enter starvation mode and our metabolism actually slows down as our body enters starvation mode. These steps we take to make our body as small as possible actually work against us.
With gender typing, society expects women to be then, when really, some bodies are not meant to be stick thin. The obesity epidemic actually works against those individuals fighting to eliminate the idea of having the perfect body. Manipulating body weight through unhealthy means has negative physical consequences, but also has severe psychological effects. Eating disorders fall in the mental health category and are way more serious than most people think. They can often develop during critical stages of development due to changes in the body. Many females, especially girls going through puberty, hear negative comments about the changes in their bodies. How can we expect individuals to live a truly healthy lifestyle when people constantly feed them information on how to make their bodies practically wither away? It is critical that people step away from ignorance and learn about this pressing issue and work toward eliminating factors that contribute to negative body image.