At the age of 14, she weighed only 25 kilos, the average weight of a nine years old. Anna McViggar was training to become a ballerina and practiced three times a week in a studio. One day she caught her reflection in the mirror and despised how “fat” she looked in her leotard. She slowly began not to eat much. When she entered secondary school and her body began to develop, she started an exercise program and cut off more food rations, “I survived on water, Diet Coke, and bits of lettuce and cucumbers” (mirror). Eventually, Anna couldn't concentrate in class and didn’t find the energy to socialize with any of her friends, “Girls my age were talking about fashion [and] boys… I was worrying on how many calories I’d had” (mirror). On March 2002, Anna was diagnosed with anorexia, a very serious eating disorder.
Eating disorders are a real challenge in our world today, especially among females. The pressure young girls receive from society to have beautiful bodies can lead to starvation and eventually death.
The effects of eating disorders are life-threatening. The factors that contribute to eating disorders are genetics, biochemistry, and psychology. Genetics wise, eating disorders can be passed on to offspring. In the case of a relative suffering from an eating disorder, there is a chance the child will inherit an eating disorder as well. Another factor to eating disorders is biochemistry, the chemicals, and hormones of the brain. Stress, sleep deprivation, and mood swings can be causes of losing appetite. High levels of these hormones can make you starve without realizing it. Finally, psychology plays a crucial role. Children that have learned unhealthy values about eating from family or peers are in risk of developing improper habits. Low self-esteem or confidence, a need for control or perfection, and concerning over other people's views, are other psychological factors that can influence eating disorders.
Our society nowadays encourages thin, beautiful bodies which can lead to eating disorders. Media plays a significant role by promoting wrong values. When I look at magazines, I am bombarded with photos of unrealistically thin models. Anyone, including I, can feel the pressure of beauty standards promoted by the media and young girls tend to follow these models. Young girls are hurting themselves to be as beautiful as the role models they are presented in the media. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, due to beauty standards we now live in a society where 42% of third graders want to be thin, 81% of ten years olds are afraid of getting fat, and over half of teenage girls are using troubling weight control methods such as fasting, skipping meals, vomiting, or taking laxatives. As a result, culture has changed as well.
The culture of beauty has changed a lot in the last decades. A century ago, weight was not considered a problem but rather a luxury. It was a sign that a person was healthy and natural, in a period where food was a scarce resource. In contrast, today weight is considered a lack of health care. These cultural differences have had an effect on the new generation and young people are affected by the pressure of the new standards, taking away values that leave permanent scars.