How eating disorders are feeding off of our society.

By Nova Compier

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How does one take action when the deed is self-destruction? How do you change one’s thinking and self-perspective? We have yet to figure out how these deeds of self-destruction have come to our mind in the first place, and without noticing nor forcing it upon ourselves; eating disorders have become part of our society. What I mean by eating disorders is not specifically anorexia nervosa, nor bulimia; eating disorders could be stress eating or dramatic food addictions as well.  Even though our world has enough problems already, from climate change to crazy presidents, how can we solve these problems with a polluted, hazy, toxic mind? This isn’t about us as individuals anymore; eating disorders have reached the butterfly effect; we contaminate each other, society’s mind.

I am a high school student and have noticed a major change in the mindset of my peers as well as social media. Where people first were warning each other about eating disorders such as the ones named above, now a new mind eating disease has settled in our brains over the past years. The idea of being “healthy”. The state of being “healthy” has changed from something which each individual person could “feel”, to a lifestyle. Now, being healthy is judged by the way you look, opposed to the way you feel. We can especially see this change in the diet industry, which has increased into a “60 billion dollar industry” according to Margaret Marshall, the author of many weight loss articles and psychological investigator in the habits of modern society. However, even though this historical perception of being “healthy” has changed, the perception of what gender is vulnerable to this mind conflicting disease hasn’t. These changes in mindset have caused our obsession with food to be a greater part of our life and our mind, which causes EVERYONE to think about what they put in their body, or not, every second of the day.

Maybe you wonder why “everyone” is written in caps? This is because I want to emphasize the shattering effect of social media, a second life almost everyone is living. Why would social media idealists only affect the female part of our society? We live in such an open-minded era, so why do we think as if there are two cliffs, so close to each other you can only walk one way, and one way only. Why can’t we all pick up a shovel and start digging these stereotypes away?

First of all, mental illnesses have never been gender specific. But now more than ever have calorie counting, gym binging and fat stripping diets affected the male part of our society. We just don’t notice it, because despite this being a very stereotypical thought; men are strong and are not affected mentally. According to Dr. Sandeep Ranote, from NHS, “The number of eating disorders occurring in the male selection of our society has doubled” regarding anorexia nervosa and bulimia. However, because of the stereotypes connected to this socially created disease, men don’t talk about the war which is constantly fought in their minds. NHS predicts that despite there being 466 male victims in the UK, this is merely a fraction of cases, most are never reported due to fear of judgment. This gender-based stereotype is also why we never hear of a 23-year-old male adult, starving himself because of what he believes is society’s ideal. The media would never post that!

BE REALISTIC!

They would never post such an article because it would uncover a male facade, carried around and stuck with superglue, to every face for the last couple of centuries. One article could break this facade and change the perception of what we believe a man to be.  

Of course, there will be some people who say that social media has positive effects too; we can’t just blame it for all problems in our society. Yes, it is a good platform to communicate with people all over the world and share important messages or opinions. But isn’t that the problem? The ability to so rapidly share with someone on the other side of the world. So fast, that if a new dieting technique is used in India, the people in America will be able to use it just as quickly. The same is happening with Instagram self-harm accounts as well as mind sickening, disorder fueling profiles contributing to this mindset which has taken over our community. “I need to be perfect.”

It is easy to argue that social media does not just influence our behavior. It also fuels the market and world of business.  

Because we don’t realize our change in mindset, we don’t notice the change in consumer wants which is what drives businesses. If the consumer wants a quick way to lose weight, then that is what the consumer gets. This “want” and “get”, creates an endless cycle in the business world as well as in our minds. Without noticing it, all these “health” products have become available to us, constantly reminding us, sometimes even without noticing, that we are supposed to change something about our body. Even restaurants are joining this “health trend”, adding calorie counting, Instagram worthy, superfoods to their menus in order to attract customers.

This proves yet again, this “trend” isn’t necessarily anorexia or bulimia; by eating disorder I mean every minute of the day you, me, everyone is thinking about what they are putting into their body.

This thought, disease, easily spread through social media, driving businesses, inspiring restaurants, shifting our common natural senses, can officially be called an epidemic in our society.

 

Work cited:

  1. Bodkin, Henry. (“Number of boys with eating disorders doubles.”), 23 November 2018,   https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/11/23/number-boys-eating-disorders-doubles/ , The Telegraph.
  2. Horton, Helena. (“Calories on restaurant menus will fuel young people’s eating disorders”), 8 December 2018,  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/12/08/calories-restaurant-menus-will-fuel-young-peoples-eating-disorders/ ,
  3. The Telegraph.
  4. Bernal, Natasha. (“Instagram criticized overeating disorder hashtags”), 14 September 2018, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/09/14/instagram-criticised-eating-disorder-hashtags-pose-dangerous/ , The Telegraph.
  5. Marshall, Margaret. (“How many diets are there?”), December 6, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-many-diets-are-there_n_6957474, LIFE, the blog.