The Problem of Eating Disorders in Modern Society

Eating lunch with my group of girlfriends can sometimes be quite uncomfortable because I end up being the only one eating. For instance, they may decide to make a salad for lunch and afterward go to the gym so that they can burn off everything they have just eaten. In the present society, pressures of achieving the “perfect body” as many thinks of it have had negative impacts on the eating habits among many teenage girls. The media has a history of putting all the most famous, thin, and “perfect” celebrities in the headlines and magazine cover to idealize beauty. The correspondence of possessing a thin body image and extreme prettiness amongst the majority of American women has culminated into an undesirable consequence on their self-esteem and eating habits. The reason behind this is that women are striving to attain the beauty associated with a thin body to the extent of eventually turning it into a vice rather than a virtue. It is crucial for society to make it clear and patent that being extremely skinny is not pretty. To make it worse, even though the calamity has encroached to the point of concern, its practice is still a subject of ignorance and enjoys some elements of uncertainty. Although there are thousands of debates about body image in America, too many of them show flaws in their reasoning by equating thinness with beauty. Society needs to approach the problem in a manner that educates the general public about the dangers of obtaining this beauty and provides other outlets for obtaining a more natural and healthy beauty.

  1. The irrational aspect of this predicament is the undying efforts to resemble celebrities whose fame has publicized how stunning they are with their slim bodies. The introduction of this particular image is to bring forth the praise and compliments, which the superstars enjoy as depicted by the media. Even the celebrities in the media who do not have the ideal size 0 body type feel the pressure to lose weight when it is not necessary. It has been evidenced that the media and magazines bombard celebrities who display even the slightest signs of heaviness. In one of the summer issues of People magazine, there were photos and comments of Jennifer Love Hewitt’s “curvy, cellulite riddled physique”. There were multiple photos displaying every angle of her newly gained weight in order to maximize how embarrassing it is to have such features. When women have a look at these pictures and how “horrifying” it is to have these curves, they create an automatic connection that having visible signs of body fat is appalling. They see all the slander that people display towards those that are slightly overweight and have the fear that they would also be slandered because of having a similar body type. The media twists and skews celebrity body images to make even the smallest celebrities seem obese. Jennifer Love Hewitt’s made a response to these photos and said “A size 2 is not fat! Nor will it ever be” (White1). The magazine made it look as though having visible body fat made her look less appealing and less beautiful. The ideology in the society and the media of promoting the traditional belief that being skinny is beautiful and eye-catching can be dangerous to women who believe in it and take drastic measures to obtain this ideal beauty. This is because unhealthy skinniness elicits no beauty but self-harm.
  2. Being overly skinny to the point of it causing physical harm to one’s body to achieve “beauty” is illogical as mentioned above. These Women undergo great lengths to become ultra-thin because they believe that being ultra-thin is a way to gain acceptance from society. Some of them have gone as far as having crash diets, exercising disproportionately, and abusing appetite suppressants, laxatives, and illegal drugs. The study from the Department of Mental Health states that “50% of all Americans know someone with an eating disorder” (DMH 1). Women who have these eating habits do not believe they have a problem because they believe that they would never let their eating habits go “that far”. These women’s problems stem from them comparing themselves to other women whom they think have “perfect” figures. At other times their eating habits go too far and end fatally. It has been proven that “eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness” (DMH 1). A case in study is that of Haley Nelson, a regular teenage girl who had an obsession with constantly comparing her weight to that of her mom. She would take multiple appetite suppressants a day but the amount of weight she lost was never enough. She started using illegal drugs such as cocaine thus becoming exceedingly addicted to losing weight. She had the belief that every pill she took drove her one step closer to perfection. So she continually increased her daily dosage until at one point in time her body could not take it anymore. All these she did because her perception of her own beauty was always much lower than reality.

It has been confirmed that the media uses the magic of photo editing to create some of these photographs of perfection something that even those in the photographs can never achieve. The most influencing factor in this slimming and beauty game is the magazines that publish beautiful, thin and perfect celebrities on their cover pages. These images display an exceptional orchestration with a type of perfection meant to captivate even the uninterested. At the first glance, they appear to look like the glamorous superstars that they are but under scrutiny, these images have undergone modification, and extensive editing to obtain a flawless illuminating photo. This builds an illusion that these famous beauties are perfect while in reality, they are just people with just as many flaws as the next person. In an issue of GQ Kate Winslet’s-who is of proper body weight had her legs and stomach slimmed down significantly making her look different. After seeing the photo in the magazine, Kate Winslet reported, “I do not look like that. I don’t know who that woman is, because it is certainly not me” (Newsweek 2). It is with great concern that the perceived superstars really look no similar to the photos used in the adverts, magazines, and newspapers. In just about every woman’s magazine, they use intensive photo editing. Even though these women are beautiful without photo retouching, the media believes that they need to look even more beautiful and without any blemishes. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” which promoted average-sized, natural women as beautiful seemed to be a counterargument to the media’s slender beauty; however, they succumbed to the pressures of beauty and perfection. The premier retoucher of these fashion photographs, Pascal Dangin commented, “Do you know how much retouching was on that. It was a challenge to keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive” (Newsweek 2). Society should find a way of endorsing false beauty over natural beauty. Women in society are no longer comparing themselves to the women in the magazines and campaigns but are comparing themselves to an altered idealized version of themselves. This points out that whoever these women have been striving to match is unnatural hence their efforts can only achieve no success but harm to their bodies. It is amazing that most women who are obsessed with such images deem that they are real and do not respond to the comments deduced by the critics and experts. Critically, women should cease the detrimental efforts to match their fantasy; more so, beauty entails more than being slim.

Most women have held very low self-esteem due to their belief that they pose no match to their preferred icons. Most women compare themselves to the tremendously scrawny celebrities and models hence perceive themselves as being chubby. They contrast themselves with the models under the perception that these models are the paramount of beauty, and by not matching them they are no better. This kind of reasoning is baseless, and misleading since everybody enjoys an exclusive creation distinct from the rest. The problem with comparing oneself to a model is that models are either born naturally skinny or have severe eating disorders because of the intense pressure of the modeling world to have a certain weight. Such as in the case of an anorexic French model, Isabelle Caro, who “suffered enormously from seeing how people looked at [her] and judged [her]”(Kennedy 1). The fashion designers and photographers that she worked for would tell her she needed to lose weight in order to make it as a model. She took that into heart and was constantly losing weight until she died weighing only 59 pounds (Kennedy1). Ordinary women with low self-esteem and bad eating habits who compare themselves with models with similar bad eating habits are ultimately striving for a goal that even the models cannot achieve. The efforts to lose extra body weight sometimes masquerades untold problems hence the raised concern from the community. Being underweight poses more serious health risks than being overweight. There is a higher percentage rate of health problems for those who are underweight than the overweight. This social problem has also posed a health threat to younger girls. Adolescents and teenage girls grow up having their childhood Barbie doll as their role model. Barbie was created to be the perfect American doll, to illustrate the ideal American woman. In a study at Hamilton College, a student built a life-size Barbie using the correct measurements of the doll. The life-size Barbie turned out to be 6 foot 9 and 110 pounds, with sticks legs, a tiny waist and breasts that would have made it impossible to stand upright. As a result, she would have a body mass index that is severely underweight, and she would have to walk on all four limbs due to her proportions (Henderson, 1). Women who compare themselves to models and or Barbie that the media advertises face serious detrimental risks of malnutrition. The media has significant flaws in reasoning due to misguiding the general public about beauty in correlation to thinness.

The common argument rumored by the slimming women that larger celebrities are unaccepted and not beautiful is loaded with undue conspiracy. Celebrities are loved because of their talent to entertain the public, and their talent still remains even if they gain a few extra pounds. The media excessively exaggerates and condemns celebrities who are “fat”, when in reality they are not fat at all. Women need to see to it that they are not abnormal for having some body fat for it is a part of nature. The health risks of having poor eating habits can have a lifetime effect of low self-esteem as well as other numerous health consequences to not eating properly. If one does not eat enough food in one day, they will not receive enough nutrients and energy for the body to properly function. Getting through days of being only half there and miserable is not worth the price of beauty and the so called happiness. The verity that most societies recognize the women’s perfection and beauty in terms of skinniness elicits no truth. Historically in many cultures, women who were larger were proud because it was a sign of prosperity and fertility. Such as in the African American and Hispanic societies, women are comfortable with their weight and they do not compare their bodies to those of models and celebrities. In Allure’s beauty survey, “African and Hispanic women are twice as likely as Caucasian women to report not wanting to change their body in any way” (Viera 1). When a woman is comfortable with her own skin, she is happier with her body image which eventually emanates high self-esteem. Women need to recognize that being confident in who they are, is the best way to exude beauty. People are more attracted to those who are secure and content with themselves than to those who are apprehensive and constantly stressing about their weight. Concurrently, a woman should define her own unique beauty. Everyone is gorgeous in his or her own manner and it only requires self-belief to achieve this.

It is can thus be concluded that most women associate thinness with beauty hence trying every possible effort to lose weight. This has become a social problem thus eliciting critical reasoning among most people. Most women believe that happiness lies on the body size of which the thin one prevails. Super depicted celebrities, believed to be leading happy lives as models, are the greatest influence in this parameter. The desire created in other women promotes undue imitation. As discussed above, women are concerned with their weight; consequently, they compromise their health for seasonal beauty. The risks of these eating habits are too high and unreasonable for no women can attain this idealized beauty the media glorifies. Women in America need to follow the amount of self-confidence that women of other cultures have so that America can reduce the damage they are doing to their bodies. On recommendation, critical reasoning associated with this social problem must be against obsession, unjustified dieting, and unnecessary comparison with others. The Media should justify on individual beauty and discourage celebrity imitation.

Works Cited

DMH. Eating Disorder Statistics. 2006. Web.

Henderson, Tom. Life-Size Mutant Freak Barbie Meant to Bring Awareness to Eating Disorders. Web.

Kennedy, Dana. The Tragic Life and Death of Anorexic Actress Isabelle Caro. 2010. Web.

Newsweek. Interactive Airbrushing Scandal. 2011. Web.

Viera Bene. Allure’s Beauty Survey Reveals What Black Women Think About Their Bodies. 2011. Web.

White, Nicholas. Jennifer Love Hewitt: ‘A Size 2 Is Not Fat!’ 2007. Web.