Eating disorders are an important cause for social, emotional and physical concerns in adolescent girls and women. It is much less frequent with males. But young girls and boys are no longer immune from the pressures of peers, parents and media to meet appearance standards once demanded only for adults. Eating disorders and body image disturbances have witnessed a substantial increase in the past 10 years.
Young adults and adolescents go to lengths to be like the ideal body image that has been reinforced time and again since childhood by media, peers around, family etc. In this struggle to achieve the ideal body image, we tend to forget taking in consideration the healthy body image. This gives rise to a lot of health and psychological concerns. Extremity leads to eating disorders like:
- Anorexia nervosa: Over-evaluation of shape and weight—i.e., judging self-worth largely, or exclusively, in terms of shape and weight Active maintenance of an unduly low bodyweight.
- Bulimia nervosa: Over-evaluation of shape and weight—i.e., judging self-worth largely, or exclusively, in terms of shape and weight recurrent binge eating—i.e., recurrent episodes of uncontrolled overeating, extreme weight-control behaviour—e.g., strict dietary restriction, frequent self-induced vomiting or laxative misuse diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa are not met.
- Binge eating: Individuals have out-of-control eating patterns, but don’t purge.
But extremely high rates of dieting and body dissatisfaction may not necessarily indicate a clinical disorder like mentioned above. However, there is an emerging evidence that individuals involving in extreme behaviours (excessive eating restrictions) might result in developing eating disorders.
The common factor in all the above-mentioned disorder is anxiety and guilt which is environmental in nature which can be, comparison one’s self to media ideals or peer, internalising unrealistic media images of attractiveness, being teased about one’s appearance, sexual abuse or harassment. The environment around us has become demanding, and for acceptance to this environment we are allowing ourselves to be slaves of conditions of worth. To be of worth, body image plays the primary factor these days, to be attractive and to be accepted. This unrealistic demands from oneself may lead to depression, disrupting family functioning as well as relations with others around and with oneself.
The next time you look into the mirror, don’t forget to say you are beautiful the way you are.