True, right that social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram put way too much pressure on female appearances and how us girls ‘should’ look and dress. Our generation are the guinea pigs on social media and for a lot of people even if we deny it has had a negative effect on our self images. We wake up look at our phones and scroll through social media looking at people’s social and personal lives and many times people post pictures of their bodies whether it’s themselves or model promotions. This toxic mirror is having such a negative effect, so why are we so fixed on the perfect body image.
There is a huge amount of pressure today for people in college to fit in. Roughly 25 million men and 43 million women are dieting to lose weight or unhappy with their weight. Another 21 million men and 26 million women are dieting to maintain a certain weight. That’s a total of 55% of the total adult population. In my family we have around 8 people with eating disorders, two of my family members are extremely anorexic, one however is from medical complications, and one has been anorexic from childhood. A lot of people in my family developed eating disorders after my aunt died over 10 years ago, because of depression and committed suicide on the new years of 2005 and 2006 , which was very hard on my family. I didn’t understand then, but now i think about it was a coping mechanism to cope with all the pain and grief that was happening. My sister and myself were very young at the time so didn’t understand what was going on. But everyday I had to see my mum struggle to keep a brave face, watch my nana fight depression and an eating disorder, trying and failing to hide it from us. I developed an eating disorder when i was 14. I would look around me at social media, my friends and my school as a whole, and become so upset with myself cause i wasn’t skinny like all the girls, and i wasn’t seen as pretty by all the boys cause I wasn’t skinny. I won’t bore you with the details. But basically I lost around 10kg and went down to 55kg in two months. This stayed like this for 2 years, until last year I had had enough. Enough of always feeling drained and exhausted, always dizzy and fainting, never truly happy with who i was, being dominated by a voice in my head telling me not to eat. I hated what i was doing to myself everyday but it was habit, i had to break it. Sometimes I still have my moments. But I think everyone can relate, we have those bad days where it’s not going well. But I’m happy with myself and I happy with where I am. I have come a long way, and being in the hostel has taught me that eating isn’t bad and won’t harm me or make me feel bad about myself, cause i need the energy to indulge in outdoor pursuits.
Eating disorders can affect anyone at any age. Eating disorders usually start at a young age usually in the early teenage years ,but there have been documented cases of children as young as 8 developing eating disorders as they believe they are too fat. People more susceptible to eating disorders are those in the spotlight. Celebrities have it tough, having to constantly meet an expectation to look a certain way or portray a certain image to thousands of people around the world. The Olsen twins, Mary-Kate and Ashley who have been in the spotlight all there life have struggled with eating disorders and anorexia since a young age, they stopped eating and started hiding, shying away from the media. But when they emerged looking skeletal and emaciated, the media were on them. Criticizing and body shaming, at the time may have been targeted towards them to show her what shes doing wrong. However people with body dysmorphia don’t see what’s happening them until they are too far gone and they are very sick. Although they are still battling with their disorders they are getting better. They still have moments where they appear very thin. But in general they have gotten treatment and are maintaining a healthy weight.
The problem today amongst teens all over the world, is that we are fixated on a certain image, we want to look a certain way. This pressure to look skinny is so high that girls develop eating disorders or depression, because there is such a standard to uphold. This isn’t the way we should expect to be accepted by peers. Visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat deliver the tools that allow teens to earn approval for their appearance and compare themselves to others. The most vulnerable users, researchers say, are the ones who spend most of their time posting, commenting on and comparing themselves to photos. One study found that female college students who did this on Facebook were more likely to link their self-worth to their looks. Interestingly, while girls report more body image disturbance and disordered eating than boys—studies have shown both can be equally damaged by social media. Thanks to an array of free applications, selfie-holics now have the power to alter their bodies in pictures in a way that makes them feel better about themselves. Teens can cover up pimples, whiten teeth and even airbrush with the swipe of a finger, curating their own image to become prettier, thinner and hotter.
We need to stop judging people on their outer appearances, and focus on what’s on the inside. If people don’t make the effort to get to know who you are because of what you look like then you shouldn’t make the effort to know them. Surround yourself with people who love and appreciate you in every way, cause at the end of the day it’s about being happy with yourself. You have a whole lifetime ahead of you and your college life shouldn’t define who you are, because of what people think of you. I wish i knew that when i was younger, it would have saved me so much time and energy making the most of making amazing memories. My time now is focused on making as many memories as i can in my last year at school, in an amazing place surrounded by incredible people. So remember every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top!