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What Forces Cause Eating Disorders?


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The aspiration of women in many from all over the world, especially in those that are more westernized, to be thin, skinny, and slender is evident and visible in everyday life. This drive and desire is fed by the many television programs, magazines, weight loss advertisements and programs that portray an ideal figure and image that women should align themselves with and live up to. The injurious effects of this never ending talk of pounds, ounces and kilograms is clear when you hear of the world’s latest generations of girls are suffering and growing up with eating disorders.

Many different types of eating disorders exist, such as, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, overeating, but some of the common denominators in the cause of most includes; emotional insecurity, lack of identity, low self-esteem or self-worth, the feeling/perception of ‘not being good enough’ and anxiety. The question that should be asked in relation to why such eating disorders occur, is what is creating or perpetuating the causes for these eating disorders, or for example, what is creating or perpetuating the feeling in girls that they are not good enough, enough for them to stop eating.

It can be a harmful act of power to go against ones biological need, to continually refuse food when you are hungry and your stomach is churning. However, this act of power is often all that many women and girls with eating disorders feel they have in their possession, or are able to express. The idea or behavior that starving oneself is a positive act of power, rather than a negative one is made visible in the perpetuation of eating disorders, an idea in which to affect women all across the globe in such large proportions has obviously been created by some very influential cultural forces, rather than by some individual girls own feelings. It is evident, when you observe television programs, magazines and film clips that these influential cultural forces, ones that most people in western nations are exposed to on a daily basis, project images of how women should look, feel, dress, behave and of course eat. Sex appeal and attractiveness is an intelligent and influential marketing strategy that is used to increase product and program popularity among consumers, but the messages that are being communicated to audiences must be considered.

It’s quite easy to blame individuals who suffer from eating disorders for their own problems, but what people should understand is the problem often does not lie with the individual or their life style. It often lies with the popular culture expressed through the media and what individuals are constantly exposed to. Women and young girls are being desensitised to images of unnaturaly skinny models in the media, and those images then become accepted and normalised to a standard that expresses what all women should look like to be considered attractive, harmful standards that many try and live up to in order to feel ‘normal’ and accepted in society. What many film clips, magazines, advertisements and movies fail to portray, is the complex and unique dimensions that make up a woman, and instead, concentrate on appearance and sex appeal rather than the originality of spirit.

The over simplified representation of women in the media as sexual objects or products has reduced them to conventional artefacts that exist to look beautiful, thin and sexy for the outside world to look upon. It is the dominant cultural forces of today that create and perpetuate the causes for eating disorders in women and young girls, where women are constantly being typecast into a sexual role by the media, and this is harmful to the thought patterns of viewers and consumers of all ages, because it suggests that a woman’s value lies only in her sex appeal. The average woman is not a size six or six foot tall. What people are seeing is the finished product, a creation, of what the media portrays a woman should look and behave like, rather than the image of a ‘real’, ‘everyday’ woman. The type of sexual attractiveness used in media and advertising is conveying the wrong messages to people around the world. It is casting a sexual mould for women to be set in, and conveys that a woman’s worth is valued only in her sex appeal.

These negative messages are creating insecurities, lack of identity, low self-esteem, and a feeling of ‘not being good enough’ in women right from a young age, messages that need to be challenged, ignored and changed in order to combat their power in perpetuating eating disorders around the world. Women and young girls need to be taken out of the exposure of harmful messages, and be opened up to positive, encouraging and true messages that state how women and girls are beautiful because they are beautiful, that they are good enough, because they are good enough, and that they are worth more than they could ever imagine.

This article has been supplied courtesy of Ray Darken. Ray often writes and works closely with Mental Health. If the previous link is inactive, you can paste this one into your browser – mental-health-depression.com/ This site is dedicated to supplying the latest news and articles on mental health to assist people with mental health issues and guidelines.

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  • Posted On December 21, 2006
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