How about this for some scary statistics:
-42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner (Collins, 1991).
-In elementary school fewer than 25% of girls diet regularly. Yet those who do know what dieting involves and can talk about calorie restriction and food choices for weight loss fairly effectively (Smolak, 2011; Wertheim et al., 2009).
-81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat (Mellin et al., 1991).
-46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets, and 82% of their families are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets (Gustafson-Larson & Terry, 1992).
-Over one-half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting, and taking laxatives (Neumark-Sztainer, 2005).
-By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life (Smolak, 2011).
But WHY? Why are these shocking statistics becoming more and more commonplace? Why is the million dollar question. While I may not have all the answers, I have a fairly good idea as to where the thoughts that lead to these alarming statistics may originate. The Media. Chances are you, yourself, have been the target of the media’s Thin Ideal. I doubt that any of us would want to wake up pursuing the Thin Ideal on our own; those thoughts have been implanted in our brain by the media from the moment we were born. Had the media decided that “the look” was a purple Mohawk and green skin, we might all fruitlessly chase that media ideal simply because it was forced upon us by the media consciously and unconsciously every single day.
After ripping through magazines, pointing out media agendas, and talking about how the Thin Ideal media affects our own eating disorder, the girls in my ED recovery support group, our therapist, and I had had enough. Each of us made a goal for the week on how we aim to ignore, fight or raise awareness on the ill effects of the media. I chose fight! I am going to expose these media messages for what they really are…crap.
The above magazine article was attempting to point out how we can be like our favorite celebrities by purchasing his or her favorite iPhone apps. Julianne Moore was quoted about this triggering app, “A makeup artist recommended this [the app] to me. You can log what you ate and how much you exercised. When I get bored on set, I can obsessively track my calorie intake.” Does this quote sound anyone else’s eating disorder alarm? I have heard from so many people in recovery whose eating disorder was able to completely take over their life because of this app; this app gives the illusion that it is normal to obsessively count calories, exercise, track eating trends, seek out smaller caloric intakes, and any other thoughts/behaviors that fuel ED’s fire. While I may not know about Ms. Moore’s personal views on eating disorders, I can say that this quote, could be very misinterpreted as a means to further an eating disorder.
I like pita chips. There I said it. And I actually enjoy eating them. Imagine my surprise when Trader Joe’s offered me a pita chip with “reduced guilt”. Oh, Trader Joe’s, how did you know? (sarcasm). As if ED wasn’t already laying on the guilt when I opened the bag, Trader Joe’s goes and adds some more. “Guilty pleasure” when and why does American culture ALWAYS associate this phrase with food or use it to put themselves down in some way. Over the years I’ve learned food is food; there are no moral values attached to it (like good, bad, sinful, guilty) and, likewise, no emotional values (food is fuel and should not have the power to manipulate your emotions). Eating food should not lead one to feel guilty. Eating should lead one to feel nourished, alive and ready to face the day. We, as a culture of Americans, have become so accustomed to putting ourselves down at every opportunity, placing more importance on the size of clothes than the size of hearts, and tearing ourselves apart over every little thing that society deems unworthy. My guilty pleasure is allowing myself to feel worthy in a society in which everything else seems to scream I am not.
But, if we do fall prey to the “Guilty Pleasure” phenomenon, this food company offers suggestions on how to counteract what we’ve eaten…just like ED does. ED is always worried about our caloric intake versus our exercise output, but now, thanks to this company, this box can serve as an aide to further ED’s message (sarcasm).
Oh, and how about this one that seems to be offering us suggestions on how to better listen to and agree with ED?
Oh, and lest the males feel that the Thin Ideal is only marketed to women, I present you with this “comic”. It appears to insinuate that the larger man needs to work out and stop eating in order to look like the smaller man…eating disordered thinking anyone?
And here are some more for good measure
So, instead of letting these messages further ED’s conquest on my life, I am choosing to fight back. I am going to do what is right for me and my recovery. I will not be a pawn in the media’s Thin Ideal game. I encourage you to look through a magazine and destroy the messages that perpetuate ED’s lies. If looking at a magazine is too triggering for you right now, just speak up when people around you say things that promote ED’s lies. Nothing is too small when it comes to fighting the media, and especially when fighting ED.
All statistics taken from the National Eating Disorders Association website at: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.