“Look at your cousin. She’s so skinny and so pretty. Look at her; she’s so beautiful now but not before when she was fat. You should ask her for her dieting tips.” My mother callously says to me after we had just finished a conversation with my older cousin. I roll my eyes at her and pretend that I didn’t hear her. Although my mother thinks that she is actually helping me to a fit and healthy life, she does not realize that she is mentally bullying me with her sharp words and even sharper tongue. She does not realize that although I ignore her, those words still echo through my head as I consciously pick a salad over pizza, as I run around to get a ball during gym, as I walk around in shorts in public.
However, I am not the only one affected by this, this dissatisfaction with my body, this grain of doubt about whether I’m skinny enough, whether I’m pretty enough. Everyday millions of girls look into the mirror and are revolted by their reflections. Everyday millions of girls see rolls of fat on their stick skinny frames and can’t bear to think of food. Everyday millions of girls are constantly criticizing themselves about their weight, approximately 15 million girls to be exact, about five percent of the population in the United States (www.anred.com). 15 million girls have anorexia and bulimia, 15 million girls. Think about the numbers.
With this in mind, think about why do so many girls have these mental illnesses? We are taught at a very young age that beauty is what is valued in society. I’m sure that in the fairytales that we have heard always involved a beautiful princess, a handsome prince, and the ugly witch. We learn that beauty is good and ugliness is evil. And from that we learn that fat people are ugly, after all, we never see a fat princess do we? We are twisted into thinking that skinny is the only beautiful. We see that the “Most Beautiful Woman of The Year,” is always skinny and we try to mimic what we see in the media. What the media pushes towards us is right. And from the media we always see that the girls that are the most beautiful are slim and they are the famous ones, they are the ones that people like the most. We trick ourselves into thinking that maybe if we are skinny, we can be one step closer to what that celebrity is, what she represents. Fame. Fortune. Beauty. Many girls starve themselves; throw up after every meal to try to be beautiful.
The media is scoured everyday by million of girls looking for the latest trends and style tips from celebrities. We consciously observe in magazines that for every picture of a “plus size” model, there are about forty “normal” size models. We watch “America’s Next Top Model” on television and notice how the plus size model is a size six and is always eliminated after the third round. The most curious thing is that the average American woman is a size fourteen and six is already “plus size” in the fashion industry (http://www.webmd.com). Actresses and singers are being defined as curvy when their thighs are not even the size of a celery stick. Is it no wonder that girls are having trouble defining what is “healthy?”
Although we see the “skinny” life as glamorous and fabulous, eating disorders are not the right way to achieve this. These eating disorders are mental illnesses that can cause more damage than good. You might look skinny and fit, but your teeth are eroding away from all the stomach acids you just hurled up, the walls of your stomach and esophagus are tearing apart, you start fainting, you have an inability to concentrate, you start having blood pressure problems, and you can even develop depression (Dr. Dowshen and Dr. Versteeg, http://kidshealth.org) (Dr Hickin, http://www.concernedcounseling.com). The idea of beautiful doesn’t seem to be that appealing anymore does it? Even with this knowledge, it still doesn’t stop many from doing this anyway. What we know doesn’t change us; it’s what we do to ourselves that changes us. So next time instead of running to the bathroom to throw up all those calories you just ate, head for the gym instead. Participate in some sports; even doing some squats on your free time is healthier. This is the road to what is beautiful.