Dying to be Barbie

December 5, 2017
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Living in a world surrounded by media which imposes a “perfect” image for all women to reach towards is a prevalent cause of eating disorders today. Models and actresses that are alleged role models for girls around the world are now setting unrealistic standards causing emotional, psychological, and physical disorders to become a norm of society in order to reach these limitations. Having a sense of self-worth and individualism is deteriorating through advertisements that are supposed to increase these traits in women of all ages but are in turn causing the destruction of one’s self-esteem.


Eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are commonly caused by standards of a society that allow one to feel these extreme measures need to be taken to be an accepted member of society. I believe that eating disorders are more common in today’s world due to the standards that are portrayed through advertisements, models, and the expectations of men. If the only women young girls see on TV are a size zero and have a body sculpted to perfection due to photoshopping then the children will begin to use this edited woman as a representation of what they aspire to look like. Not only does this produce unrealistic beliefs in young girls and women but also in the men who desire a woman that is a perfect depiction of these models. These views begin at a young age and most likely affect girls from their young teenage years to early adulthood due to the pressure they are put under as they begin to plan the rest of their life in high school and college. I also believe that as the generations continue to develop, boys are beginning to hold girls of this age to the expectations they form from media and pop culture, therefore causing these disorders to become prevalent earlier on in life.


Although some of these disorders go unnoticed by those surrounding these girls, the signs pointing towards an eating disorder are characterized by adherence to a strict diet, hoarding large amounts of food, exercising compulsively, and an intake of an abnormal amount of laxatives. I believe the most common eating disorder is anorexia nervosa because girls fall under the theory that a strict diet is a sense of control they have to have over themselves and can not be forced to eat or stop working out. I also believe that this disorder allows girls to live an unhealthy lifestyle that is sometimes unnoticed by society because it is so common for girls to desire to be “fit” or “skinny.” Instead of letting these disorders persist, society needs to take steps forward in eradicating the beliefs that are diminishing every girl’s self-confidence in being who they truly are. One way in which society can aid this movement is eliminating advertisements that portray “plus size” models that are actually the size of a normal woman. The sticks that walk down the runway are in no way activist in being a role model because even they know that they are unrealistic figures that are constantly being edited to perfection. Another way that women’s self-confidence could be boosted is by having more advertisements that persuade women to be who they are and not what society wants them to be - become activists of individualism. This could be accomplished through magazines. Television, and the media focusing on publishing realistic pictures of superstars, without any of the editing and photoshop they use to perfect their bodies. Finally, I believe that society can improve the confidence in women by halting the standards women are held to by men. This can be done by every member of society if there is a larger focus on the inner beauty of women within relationships as well as the media. Men can only use what is given to them, so if society does not hand them what they should actually look for in a spouse then their expectations will skyrocket to an alternate universe of perfection. Personality should be more of a factor to men who are searching for their Mrs. Right. If I suspected that a friend of mine was developing an eating disorder I would constantly give them positive feedback on being who they are and how beautiful they are. It is vital for high school students, especially, to constantly use words of encouragement and never words that could lower anyone’s self-esteem. Being a teenager, I realize the value of a compliment and words of praise, so in return, I could use this as persuasion to raise the confidence of any of my friends I feel could be developing any type of disorder. If any symptoms develop into something serious I would feel responsible to advise their parents and counselor so they could get the proper treatment before problems persist.


Eating disorders are commonly mistaken for women just trying to “fit in,” but this world is headed down a narrow path of decreasing the confidence of women as their expectations of who they should be increased. Pop culture is a major factor in setting guidelines and standards that all women should follow to feel beautiful yet contradict this by promoting self-confidence. The signs of eating disorders need to be recognized so that society can halt this downward spiral and pick up the pace of boosting the confidence of women around the world. This world would certainly be a boring place to live if everyone looked and acted the same.






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