Blaming the Media
Greencastle High School
This paper was prepared for AP English Literature and Composition taught by Mr.
Eating Disorders: Can We Prevent Them?
Blaming the Media
My generation has grown up in a world that has mainly focused on the media, for example, television, magazines, and social network. In our society's falsely created idea of perfection, young women should be tall, dark, and wear a size zero while men should be tanned and muscular. We see this in today's models, actresses, and so on. The desire to achieve this idea of perfection is sometimes taken to extremes, which consequently causes eating disorders. Two common and problematic eating disorders include anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, most commonly known as anorexia and bulimia. Most of us cannot envision someone who spends their time counting and limiting his or her caloric intake or vomiting in the sink because he or she fears gaining weight. Unfortunately, this is a sad reality for those who strive to attain the body image of their approval, or society's approval.
Anorexia and bulimia are both defined as "psychological illnesses characterized by an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted self image". Anorexia, however, is distinctly known as selfstarvation while bulimia is characterized by binge eating followed by selfinduced vomiting. Both disorders affect males and females of all age groups, but are most common in teenage girls (Anorexia Facts and Statistics, Palm Beach Futures).
Though the first cases of anorexia and bulimia were discovered in the late seventeenth century, they did not become prevalent until the 1970s (History of Eating Disorders). Most models and celebrities were average sized (with curves, not stickthin) until the 1970s, when the sight of ribs and hip bones mysteriously became the media's idea of "attractive".
Most of us have a celebrity that we look up to, who we aspire to present ourselves similarly. Since the vast majority of today's top celebrities are thin, many young people believe that what society used to consider an alarmingly low amount of body fat is now normal. To them, the average person with five to eighteen percent body fat is considered fat or overweight. They disregard the fact that everyone has a different body type and that a "thin" body is unattainable for some people, no matter how little they eat or how much they exercise.
Researchers believe that eating disorders are most often caused by a lack of confidence
caused by this mindset (Eating Disorders).
Multiple health issues, minor and fatal, are derived from anorexia and bulimia.
Abnormally slow heart rate and irregular heartbeat, osteoporosis, muscle loss, kidney failure, tooth decay, and amenorrhea (loss of menstrual cycle in females) are a few consequences that follow prolonged eating disorders (Health Consequences of Eating Disorders | National
Some of us fail to realize that eating disorders are not easily curable. Eating disorders are not only a physical issue, but take mental tolls as well, such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia (Eating Disorders). As we know, we cannot cure such a mental disorder by simply telling the victim that they need to stop worrying or that they should "just be happy". Eating disorders work in a similar way. We cannot tell a person with an eating disorder to "just eat" or
"don't throw up". People who suffer from these eating disorders have convinced themselves that they are overweight and they refuse to believe otherwise. When they begin to notice that intentional starvation and vomiting makes them lose weight, they turn the unhealthy actions into habits that are almost impossible to break without the help of a psychiatrist or psychologist (Consequences of Eating Disorders).
Most anorexics and bulimics refuse to get help, however. More