n today’s world, we have all heard phrases similar to “he’s so skinny” or “she would be so much prettier if she wasn’t fat”. These phrases and social standards are what would be referred to as body shaming.
The common belief that people in a society should look a certain way comes strongly from the media. Due to these standards and high expectations, many teens and young adults find themselves inadequate, or not socially acceptable. These insecurities can lead to many body complexes, and ultimately eating disorders. With new advances being made in technology each day, social media has come to play a pivotal role in the eradication of body shaming and the eating disorders that may follow. Unfortunately, there are also many ways in which social media is used to support these ideals and influence teens to body shame and put their own bodies at risk.
An example of this is the hashtags “#ana” and “#thinspo” on the popular app Instagram. These hashtags, used mostly by young teenage girls, are pro-anorexia and used to encourage young teens to form destructive habits and eating disorders. The most common of these illnesses being anorexia.
Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among adolescents. Along with anorexia, there are many other serious eating disorders affecting thousands of people around the world. The most common eating disorder is Binge Eating Disorder. BED occurs in 1 in 35 adults in the U.S. This translates in studies to 3-5% of women, and 2% of men. This disorder is the act of eating large quantities of food in a very short amount of time.
This can be caused by many factors including stress, low self-esteem, and bullying- which is often done through the use of social media and technology. Another prevalent eating disorder affecting today’s youth is bulimia.
While the intent of bulimia is very similar to those of anorexia, the way in which these results are achieved are very different. In cases of bulimia, people may eat a large amount of food at once, similar to BED. However, they would immediately force themselves to throw up, or exercise excessively to prevent the weight gain. The common component amongst all of these eating disorders is the pressure placed on young adults that ultimately leads up to them. Whether this pressure is from their peers or the social standards set by media, they are very evident in today’s society.
These ideas can be avoided by educating yourself, as well as today’s youth, about the risks and truths about eating disorders. Maintain a positive body image. Do not concede to negative comments and weight stigmas, and do not judge yourself or the people around you by outer appearance. Focus more strongly on character and personal value, and if you feel that yourself or someone you know is at risk of forming, or has formed, an eating disorder, tell someone.
National Eating Disorders Association Helpline: 1-800-931-2237