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The Truth Behind the Perfect Photos
We drown ourselves in the burning pressure to be perfect. We alter, starve, and hurt ourselves, just to match the image we have in mind. But what we don’t see is the corruption found in every picture and magazine, done by the simple click on a computer. Yet even once we see the truth, we still agonize on how to be that perfect person. On this quest for perfection, many people come to the conclusion that starving themselves, also known as an eating disorder, is the answer. There are many types but they all stem from two: Anorexia and bulimia. They plague our country and the hearts and minds of millions of Americans. We need to battle eating disorders by addressing root causes so people can have more confidence in their abilities selves.
With anorexia, people essentially starve themselves. Symptoms of anorexia include a fear of weight gain, feeling fat despite a large amount of weight loss, and eating a very small amount, sometimes not at all. It is estimated that .5-3.7% of women suffer from anorexia in their lifetime. And those who previously had it have a 50% chance of having bulimia or bulimic tendencies.
With bulimia, instead of starving themselves, people eat as much as they want, but soon, or immediately after eating, they purge, vomiting up calories or by taking diuretics or laxatives. Other symptoms of bulimia include extensive exercise, a fear or weight gain, and the use of diet pills.
Diet pills have several different forms, prescription, over the counter, and herbal supplements, most have side effects. There are different active ingredients in each one, here are a few: Bitter orange, which has chemicals that act as stimulants and can temporarily suppress your appetite and increase the number of calories you burn by making your metabolism higher. But the chemicals can also cause high blood pressure and a high heart rate. Chromium mineral, Gaur gum, and hoodia are a few others.
It is much more common for women than men to have an eating disorder. Only five out of fifteen people who have an eating disorder are men. That said women are more likely to seek help than men because a lot claim that it is a women’s disease.
People between 12-24 are most likely to have an eating disorder. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Often these are people who to the average eye look perfectly healthy, but they still feel the need to be thinner.
A large contributing factor to the number of eating disorders is athletics. In elite athletes, 20% are found to have an eating disorder, verses the female control group who had 9%. It is most common in judged sports like ballet, gymnastics, and figure skating. Anyone who has done that kind of sport knows the pressure to be the fittest or most flexible, and the way to fix that in his or her minds is to become skinnier.
Even though I know that purging or starving yourself is something never to do, I find myself looking at every person I see and in my mind thinking that they have a smaller waist, longer legs, thinner face. I can understand the need and desperation to be like everyone else. We are constantly given messages of how we should look. But they won’t help; the only thing it will do is make it worse. You have to find some other way to appreciate and love yourself.
I know that media is one of the largest problems in perpetuating the beauty myth. In almost all media women have to be unnaturally skinny, large chested, and “pretty”. Only 5% of all American females actually have the body type that is portrayed as perfect and ideal. 47% of 5th-12th grade girls want to lose weight, largely because of magazine pictures; 69% said that magazines influenced their idea of a perfect body.
My response to anyone who said they were insecure about how they looked is exercise more, and not to lose weight, exercising is something that has proved to make you happier and obviously fitter. I think that when you’re fit you don’t feel the same insecurities because you can be so much more confident in your abilities and yourself.
Recovering from an eating disorder can be just as hard as having one. The first step is you must accept that you have a problem, and then tell someone. You can confide in your parents, a specialist, and a friend, anyone that can help. A very important thing is you must address the health problems involved and make a long-term treatment plan. The risk if you don’t get help is not only emotional but physical; the mortality rate associated with anorexia alone is 12 times higher than the death rate associated with all causes of deaths for girls ages 15-24.
I hope that anyone reading this have a better understanding of what an eating disorder truly means. If you have a friend with an eating disorder, or you yourself are suffering, find help in a parent, friends, specialist, or even a teacher. Loving yourself, and enjoying life slips away with that hatred and insecurity of an eating disorder. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way, if you are confident and know you’re beautiful other people will see you that way too. But if you do ever drop into that pit of self-hatred, the first step out of that hole is to confide in someone. If it’s not you, it’s a friend, let them come to you, don’t push them, let them know how much you care for them, and they will come to you in their own time. Because this is not a sickness that anyone wants.