Research suggests that, in addition to internal factors like chemical imbalance or a history of abuse, many external factors can contribute to the development of an eating disorder. Traumatic experiences or significant life changes can thrust an individual into an obsessive battle with food, but society may be acting as an enabler or even a root cause for distorted body images.
How Society Perpetuates Unhealthy Images
By allowing the entertainment and advertising agencies to define beauty, we’re given a confusing projection of ideal body traits that typically aren’t even realistic. Hollywood and the fashion industry seek out the minority of individuals who fall into a certain body type pool or digitally edit photographs.
The problem arises when these bodies are accepted as both perfect and attainable. Many individuals easily make the jump from admiring an image to wanting to look like the image. Ordinary people find themselves wanting to look like a celebrity whose job is to look a certain way or like a model who, more often than not, has undergone a rigorous photo editing process before being printed.
What’s Being Done to Stop the Unhealthy Goals
Reacting to unhealthy body images in the media, fashion industry and advertising can have an effect. The Italian fashion industry in Milan adjusted its weight requirements in response to public outrage at emaciated models starving themselves to qualify. Some products have made a point of portraying only healthy models in their advertisements. Many celebrities have opened up about personal struggles with eating disorders, and a few have made a point of only posing for photo shoots in which they can limit the amount of editing done to photos.
What We Can Do
A healthy body image begins at home. Changes in the media are gradual and will always be limited to a certain extent by the wants of the consumer. Purchasing products and magazines that promote healthy body images is a significant step in correcting the media’s influence.
You also have a significant impact on the children and adolescents in your life. As children are learn to navigate the social waters, they quickly pick up on the importance of appearance in succeeding. By correcting false impressions garnered from the media and encouraging a healthy body image and eating habits, you can help prevent the development of an eating disorder. Keep in mind that when you as a parent obsess about dieting and losing weight, your children are listening and will accept this behavior as normal.
Teaching healthy lifestyle habits and the importance of proper nutrition with bulimia prevention at an early age may help your children on the road to happiness and success.