Article in brief: The author discusses the importance of considering eating disorders as an actual disorder rather than a trend.
Picture this, a nine-year-old girl looking at herself in the mirror inspecting every inch of her body wanting to know what is wrong. She has been tormented and bullied about how skinny and almost skeleton-like she was. She hated herself for looking and behaving differently from her family members and friends. She wanted to change, because she had had enough of being different. Little did she know, she was a victim of an eating disorder that would later on affect her life completely.
Unfortunately, children are capable of suffering from an eating disorder, yet people still choose to take the case of eating disorders lightly. Victims of eating disorders have been struggling to be acknowledged as people with an actual disorder and not with a disease that is a mere figment of their imagination. Despite the presence of medical proof of the biological and physical factors, many still choose to consider it as a trend that’s getting more attention than it deserves through the internet. The case of eating disorders is a tragedy in the form of a medical condition. Though the media may have a role in portraying it as a trend, people should stop taking it lightly as it does affect lives.
While the majority of people remain convinced that eating disorders are another trend created by teenagers and supported by the mass media and they’re nothing but wanting to look like people in magazines, scientific evidence suggests otherwise. There are three main types of eating disorders: Anorexia, which is the lack or loss of one’s appetite; Bulimia, which leads to compulsive eating followed by self-vomiting or fasting; and lastly, Binge Eating which involves the intake of a large amount of food in a short period of time. According to Harvey Simon, a physician in Massachusetts General Hospital, genetics attribute immensely to eating disorders; doctors have recognized chromosomes related to Anorexia and Bulimia, and concluded that eating disorders are usually inherited. With the biological factors, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis (HPA) system can affect the stress, mood, and appetite. An abnormality in all three of them can be a great cause of eating disorders.
Although eating disorders pose extreme danger on one’s health, they aren’t impossible to treat. A large amount of treatment centers have been placed worldwide to help those willing to seek recovery. Treatment centers have found it important to check on the patients’ mental illness and have psychiatrists examine them as collectively; almost 50% of victims of eating disorder suffer from a mental illness as well, stated by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. In addition, patients meet specialized dietitians. Luckily, eating disorders treatment centers contributed in the effectiveness of recovery in many individuals. Basically, deeming that eating disorders are nonexistent does not fit the scientific agenda, as countless medical proof could be presented.
By taking eating disorders lightly, society sets a hefty pressure on the victims of eating disorders. Not only is the victims’ disorder ignored, it is ridiculed as well. A large sum of people believe that simply eating could solve the issue. Such reactions could contribute to the delay in recovery, as not getting any medical attention until the case gets too severe is destructive. Furthermore, it needs to be acknowledged that eating disorders do not only stem from the media but there are other factors such as self-punishment, feeling physically incapable and ill at the thought of eating, and previous experience with lack of food. People simply consider it more of a phase than a disorder that has a strong effect on one’s lifestyle and mindset. Moreover, it’s claimed that the disorder is only recent thus meaning it’s not very important. However, Renée Vivien, a British poet who wrote in French died in the year 1909 due to Anorexia. Therefore, eating disorders are anything but recent; they have been around for years.
Nonetheless, with the presence of actual treatment centers, specialized doctors, and endless cases, some people still continue to take the matter lightly. People such as Susan Bordo, a strong active contributor in the field of contemporary cultural studies, argues that there is no such thing as an eating disorder, but it is mostly wanting to be a reflection of what the media depicts as the perfect body image. She believes that eating disorders are more of imitating the media than an actual disorder. She is completely right and does in fact have a point to some extent – body dissatisfaction is usually how eating disorders arise and the media is a strong factor in wanting to lose or gain weight. However, there’s a huge difference between disliking what you see in the mirror and having a definite disorder. With wanting to look like the pictures you see in the media, you can willingly control your food intake by dieting. On the other hand, when it reaches an obsessive point, it turns into more than just a need to have the Barbie doll image, but a biomedical issue emerges that disarrays one’s glands.
It has become apparent that adolescents are more affected by what they see in social media about the image of the body. The same way media has an effect on how a person should look, it has the responsibility of making people comfortable in their own skin by promoting self-love and acceptance of all shapes and sizes. Claims that eating disorders are a sheer trend are absolutely wrong because medical evidence and treatment facilities can make those claims cease to exist. To stop all the ignorance, telling a victim of an eating disorder to simply eat is not going to treat them, the same way a victim of cancer would not be healed by simply asking them to feel better. In order for eating disorders to be reduced as much as possible, we need to take them seriously and work hand-in-hand with social institutions to spread awareness and educate people about them.
Alia is an AUS student double majoring in International Studies and English literature. She is also the author of Alatash fictional novel. Her main goal is to make a change and empower the youth. Her column is meant to help the younger generations deal with tough situations. It was given that title as hidden promises is what us teenagers often believe; false promises.
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