We are all taught at a young age that looks do not matter. Yet, we live in a society that contradicts that very idea. Magazines, billboards, reality tv shows.. they all promote a certain body image as being beautiful, and it is far from the average women’s size 12. Body image is a pressing issue that affects all men and women. The obsession of many young boys and girls over their body image has led to an increasing number of people who suffer from eating disorders to try to deal with their lack of self-esteem or other related problems. According to Psychology Today, the most common eating disorders include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating, and Muscle Dysmorphia. In a recent survey of 185 students on a college campus through the Nutrition Journal, 58% felt pressure to be a certain weight, and 83% of the hard core dieting were already average weight pre dieting. It was also recorded by the ANAD foundation that eating disorders are to be the 3rd most chronic illness in young adults.
The media’s use of airbrushing is one of the major causes of these impossible standards of beauty. Many of stick-thin cosmo models were actually suffering from eating disorders, but were airbrushed to look less unwell. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Hardy stated that “The models had 22-inch waists, but they also had great skin, teeny tiny ankles, and thin thighs, but they still had luscious hair and full cheeks. Thanks to retouching, our readers never saw the horrible, hungry downside of skinny.” The models’ skeletal bodies, dull, thinning hair, spots and dark circles under their eyes were magically erased by technology, a vision of perfection that simply did not exist. By airbrushing these models it gives the readers an idea that this image is attainable, and by trying to look like these models, they become just as unhealthy.
Although media plays a huge role in holding such high standards for beauty, it is recorded that pressure from friends and family tend to rank out the media and start from a very young age. Eating disorders can be triggered by lack of support from traumatic events like bereavement, relationship problems, and abuse, according to the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Family relationships are complex and central to the development of a child’s sense of self. According to a study from the University of Florida titled, “Too Fat to be a Princess?” almost 50% of children under the age of six were already concerned about their weight. The adults that they are surrounded by perceive their bodies. Along with pressure from family there are psychological factors that contribute to eating disorders, some are depression, anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, and low-self esteem. Many studies have been done on the relationship between these psychological behaviors and eating disorders; all have concluded through various measures that there is a strong relation between the two. Too often, the result of an inadequate self results in the distortion of eating.
In conclusion, the unrealistic standard of beauty that men and women are bombarded with everyday gives them a goal that is nearly impossible to reach, and the effects are devastating. These impossible standards need to be stopped, and society needs to promote a healthy body image with the idea that men and women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful- not just those who are size 2.