Unrealistic expectations of human bodies are plastered all over billboards, TV advertisements and magazines. Viewers often visualize themselves in different skins and with different features that they think will make them better in some way. What the media doesn’t realize is that its deliberate stab to an individual’s distinctiveness results in self-destruction.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 69 percent of girls in grades five through 12 stated that pictures of other women in magazines had influenced their idea of a perfect body. Most fifth-graders are 10 years old and by this age have been exposed to many magazines containing pictures of women and men who all maintain the “ideal” body type. They grow up in a society that introduces them to “good” bodies and “bad” bodies in a manner that makes it seem like these definitions are finite.
As they age, their bodies go through puberty, and they soon realize that not everyone can be like women and men in magazines. However, they still strive for their bodies to look like these images.
They go to the gym every day and eat healthy but still wake up every morning with a body that isn’t good enough. When they look in a mirror, they don’t like what they see. Healthy efforts are aborted, and they may adopt unhealthy weight loss habits.
More than half of the country’s teenage girls and nearly a third of its teenage boys engage in behaviors such as skipping meals, taking laxatives, smoking, fasting or vomiting as a form of weight control, according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.
Some people will go to extreme lengths to attain the goal of a perfect body, and their methods may be detrimental to their health. Habitual and repeated unhealthy behaviors could result in an eating disorder.
According to the National Eating Disorder Association, the most commonly known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa. NEDA’s website cites a 2011 review of almost 50 years of research that confirms anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder.
If you suspect you are forming unhealthy weight control habits, consider visiting the Counseling and Testing Center located in Potter Hall.