Eating disorders do not have one specific origin but they can be triggered by mental, environmental, and social factors. Bulimics, anorexics, and binge-eaters have many things in common yet they are so different at once. People can suffer from these mental illnesses no matter their culture, gender, or religion. Depression and low self-esteem are relatively common for people with eating disorders. They cause people to become solitary and consumed with their own grief. Standards for beauty and the perfect body affect the mental health of humans worldwide.
The most common disorders are bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder. Bulimia is best described as consuming a lot of food in a short period of time. It is followed by purging (self-induced vomiting to rid themselves of guilt). Anorexia is the opposite as it involves eating little to no food. However, when they do eat, it may be followed by purging. Unlike bulimia and anorexia, people who have a binge-eating disorder solely eats excess amounts of food without trying to get rid of its damage.
Although thin is generally the ‘ideal’ body, it can vary throughout cultures. Being exposed to different cultures can affect yours fitness goals. People in Central/South America and the Caribbean prefer a thicker physique. Many believe that “having meat” is beautiful. However, they mean the right kind of meat. They mean having meat on the breasts and glutes. They don’t mean having meat where fat is more prone to be stored, or the stomach. The ideal body is slim yet curvaceous. Someone from those countries living in America might have trouble dealing body image as the people in their lives set different standards. This could lead to bulimia, binging for one side and purging for the other.
Sociocultural factors play a big part in promoting eating disorders as media becomes more popular. Social media makes people vulnerable without them realizing. Whether it be unconsciously oversharing on Twitter or Instagram fitness accounts making people self-loathing. The way we engage with the world has changed completely. The romanticizing of mental illnesses is something that is seen frequently on sites such as Tumblr. It can be easy for teens to fall into a trap of counting calories and extreme dieting, because they are “still in a phase of brain development and emotional regulation and often susceptible to peer pressure.” Another problem that has recently caused confusion among teens is that the ideal body has been alternating. The most common is obviously being thin. However, with celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose(who both embrace their bodies magically), millennials are glamorizing curvier bodies. Lean and muscular bodies have also become popular as weight lifting can help with the glutes. Someone with a body that is not skinny or curvy can become frustrated and eating disorders may serve as a coping mechanism.
Although less common, men also suffer from eating disorders. “The stereotypical person with anorexia nervosa is a rich, white, adolescent girl; which is far from reality, because AN effects all genders, ages, races and socioeconomic classes.” The sexualization of muscular men can cause many to become obsessive about their bodies. This can cause excessive exercise and potentially a binge-eating disorder. Men are encouraged to avoid self disclosure; this could lead to developing an eating disorder as an alternative to expressing emotions. Becoming educated on eating disorders is the first step to understanding those suffering from them.