Price of Perfection

April 16, 2011
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The illusion of perfectionism is all around us, enveloping us in the false sense of high-set societal expectations. From the air-brushed models gracing the covers of Teen Vogue and the made-up celebrities smiling up at us from the pages if Seventeen, teenage girls grow up with the idea that to be well-liked and beautiful, you must be thin, poised, and utterly perfect in every way. What today’s media industry does not realize, though, is that the publication of such far-fetched ideals hurts normal teenagers more than it helps them. Perfectionism is just an illusion of a damaged heart, broken from years of abuse and judgment. This abuse starts much younger than the teenage years, much earlier than the point of time in which little Suzy picks up her first Teen Vogue and is suddenly bombarded with these crazy ideals. The fact of the matter is, however, is that little Suzy is not even surprised to see these beautiful, stick-thin models, because she has seen this societal ideal since before she can remember. Suzy and girls just like her have been exposed to this twisted idea of beauty since they were in diapers, from the Disney movies only showcasing hourglass-bodied princesses to the vulgar teasing and picking apart from fellow classmates, so much that the image of the Teen Vogue models and women just like them, airbrushed and beautiful, fly under the radar as “ideal”, not “impossible” in their undeveloped, innocent minds. This kind of uncensored thinking only yields dire effects later on in life.
Studies done by the South Carolina Department of Mental Health show that about seven million American women suffer from an eating disorder, and that 95% of the aforementioned group represents girls ranging in age from 12-25. Why? Because of the standards of perfection set by society. The girls suffering from this disorder are just like anyone of us, constantly exposed to the models and celebrities wearing the latest fashions in the smallest sizes, constantly feeling inadequate and ugly against the pictures of these Photoshopped, airbrushed women. Many outsiders look at the anorexics and bulimics of this world and pass off their behavior as “melodramatic” or “attention-seeking”, when all they need is reassurance and love, telling them that they are beautiful the way they are, but they never seem to get it when surrounded by negative thinkers such as the ones mentioned above. The most shocking and perhaps the most tragic thread of information regarding this is that eating disorders account for the highest death rate of any known mental illness, either due from suicide related to it or from complications, such as failed organs and malnutrition.
The majority of recovered anorexics/bulimics report that their disease started in high school, which is a quite common fact. What people do not know, is that one does not have to be emaciated or too thin to qualify as an anorexic or a victim of an eating disorder, and a bulimic does not have to binge and purge as frequently as one may think to qualify as such. Anorexics, while showcasing rapid weight loss, show other symptoms besides rapid weight loss, and in some cases, one can lose a substantial amount of weight but still fall into a normal weight range while exhibiting all other signs of anorexia. Imagine waking up in the morning with absolutely zero energy and having to gradually ease out of bed with the support of the headboard and nearby table, shaking arms the only thing supporting you as you push off into a standing position. Imagine feeling dizzy to the point of sitting back down every time you ease out of your seat. Imagine feeling inadequate and ugly next to every other woman you pass, anywhere in the world. Imagine surviving on as little as a couple of crackers and vegetables, never tipping the calorie calculator past 200, on a day-to-day basis. Imagine walking up your driveway, panting, with your legs feeling like clay beneath you. Imagine looking in the mirror and hating everything you see. Imagine crying yourself to sleep for hours, each night. Imagine trying to reach perfection, day in and day out, but never coming close enough to please you. Imagine this being the fate of your mother, your daughter, your little sister. We need to help the young girls of today’s world become all they can be. We need to help them feel beautiful. We need to help them feel accepted. We need to help them feel perfect, each one, because that is what they are, and with further expose to the damaging media, they will feel imperfect, and we wouldn’t want them to grow up in a world of lies, now would we?


"Eating Disorder Statistics." 2003 Retraining Grant Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2011. <

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