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Feeding the Monster

Do you know her? Her name is Ana. She promises to support you, to give you advice, and be there for you every step of the way, so long as you promise her one thing: you can’t eat. You don’t feed the monster. Perhaps your personality doesn’t match with Ana’s. However, Mia promises to be there too. She tells you that you can eat all that you want, but you have to make yourself throw it all up later. Both of them will tell you that “nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels.”
“Ana” and “Mia” are names used to personify the eating disorders by those who have those mental illnesses. Many people with eating disorders commonly refer to them as a “lifestyle choice” rather than a mental illness. Many can clearly see eating disorders as mental illnesses, however, those that see this as a lifestyle choice are only being helped along by the new media craze of skinny, emaciated models and media pushing thin as a form of beauty and making eating disorders more and more socially acceptable.

In the past fifty years, the image by which we define beauty has changed drastically. In 1960, the average model was about five feet and seven inches tall and weighed about 130 pounds. That is a body mass index (BMI) of about twenty or twenty-one. Today, fifty years later, the average fashion model is about five feet and nine inches tall and weighs about 115 pounds. That is a BMI of less than seventeen, which is considered to be underweight. Many celebrities have similar BMI’s and many of them have developed eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, to achieve such emaciated figures.

The shift in body image occurred around the mid-1960’s, when supermodel “Twiggy” came into popularity. Twiggy’s name related to her thin form; although she was shorter than most models, her measurements were 31-22-32, which was also much thinner than most models . Her looks were defined as androgynous, which is a term used to define a mix of both masculine and feminine features. After her rise to popularity came many other thin models’ rises as well, starting the new craze of crazy thin models.

Today, many celebrities and models have developed eating disorders to achieve these emaciated figures that they long for. Both anorexia and bulimia are prominent and on the rise in celebrities and models. The amount of women with eating disorders has also risen, showing how celebrities with eating disorders and ordinary women with eating disorders are directly proportional. Further demonstrating our obsession with thin, the average fashion model today weighs 23 percent less than the average women while twenty years ago, that figure was only eight percent. Many models today have are 20 to thirty percent below their ideal body weight. Seventy-five percent of women choose an “ideal body” as one being ten to twenty percent underweight, due to the perception of thin as being beautiful. This constant view that women have, that how they look isn’t good enough, and constantly comparing themselves to celebrities and models with unhealthy weights is detrimental to their health.
America, as a nation is obsessed with thin and only getting more obsessed as more and more women diet at younger and younger ages. Body image, strongly affected by the media, is a leading cause of eating disorders. The majority of women in the United States, about ninety percent, have negative body image thoughts every day; on average, they’ll have thirteen negative thoughts and at least one “I hate my body” moment. Many of these negative thoughts come from reading magazines, featuring these thin celebrities and models. Following the viewing of these images, whether they’re ads or simply photos of celebrities out and about, seventy percent of women felt more depressed and hated their body more than before they saw the pictures. Not only does the modeling industry give girls the impression that they are not good enough, but they also give girls the idea of what a “perfect body” actually is. Nearly half of girls from grades five through twelve reported that they wanted to lose weight due to the photos and over half stated that the images strongly influenced their idea of what their body should look like, when in reality only a very small percentage of the population, five percent, can ever obtain that exact figure. This study directly relates to how celebrities and models have negatively influenced America’s view that thin is beautiful.
Not only does this body image issue affect older women, it affects little girls who should not have to worry about being overweight. Girls in grades from first to fourth are already living in fear of becoming fat. Sure, no one wants to become obese, but their image of “fat” is so marred, they don’t even know what fat is. Three in four girls think they are overweight, when in reality, only one in four actually is. In 1970, a girl might start dieting at fourteen; that was completely normal. In 1990, a girl might start dieting at eight; that was completely normal, but hardly healthy for a growing girl. Nine out of ten upperclassmen in high school diet, even though only one of those girls is actually considered to be overweight.
Many celebrities, especially lately, have come out saying that they have eating disorders. This only encourages the girl who long for their skinny bodies. If they can do it and have the body they want, in their mind, it’s worth it. Models and celebrities have become “thinspiration”; images of bodies that pro-ana girls dream of. Some of the pictures are simply thin girls, some of the pictures are of girls who are nothing more than skin and bone. Quotes such as “bones are beautiful” are popularized by this community, who encourage each other not to eat and commiserate after a binge. However, especially as teenagers, the dangers of these eating disorders are not clearly seen. Eating disorders have both psychological and physical dangers to their victims, going as far as to even claim some of their lives. Medical complications along with other things, like depression, can be terrible results.
“Thin” has become a scary perception of beauty. The correlation between the changes in our views of what beauty is in the past fifty years, and the wave of thin celebrities with eating disorders is startlingly obvious. The things that people will do to achieve these thin bodies are just as terrifying. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not the media, and America must strive to remember this. So, perhaps Ana and Mia promise to be there for you and promise that you will never feel better than being skinny, and they will be there for you, every step of the way as you slowly waste yourself away.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

michellemejia95 said...
Sept. 25, 2012 at 11:15 pm:
So true.  Amazing piece of writing!
 
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erd0398 said...
Apr. 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm:
This was really well written! Very factual, and the way you opened it was extremely intriguing. I loved it! :)
 
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