Anorexia Nervosa and What Really Causes It: Thesis Statement

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Beauty is a state of mind. As adolescent girls and boys grow and develop, they have to learn to accept and love their bodies. The process of loving oneself is arduous, and being insecure can last into adulthood. However, some children’s insecurities may turn into serious disorders. One condition that is related to body dysmorphia is anorexia nervosa, which is defined as an eating disorder in which one, typically a female, obsesses over how they look and turns to restrictive eating. From my perspective, young women and girls may be suffering from anorexia nervosa mainly because of media portrayal, increased usage of social media, and the need to be in control.

The media portrays women and girls as being perfect and having a certain idealistic figure. This figure is most similar to being skinny and 5’7”-6’0” with long legs. This standard of beauty is unattainable for most females in the United States. However, the media has started to include more women with different body sizes in their portrayal of beauty. Because the idea that women need to have an idealistic figure has previously been ingrained, women now will continue to compare themselves to the beauty standard that they know. Young women and girls may compare themselves to the ‘perfect woman’ that is portrayed in the media and decide that they want to more closely resemble that body image. This search for idealism results in the development of anorexia nervosa in extreme cases. For example, an average female may see an ad for Victoria’s Secret in the media and feel insecure about her body. Victoria’s Secret models are traditionally characterized as being skinny (around 132 pounds), between 5’8”- 6’0”, with long legs, and being slightly more voluptuous than a traditional runway model. On the contrary, a young average female would most likely be around 165 pounds, in the 5’4”- 5’6” range, be rather proportional in limb length, and is most likely still developing. To see the models that are portrayed as ‘angels’ or ‘perfect’ can damage the self-esteem of the young girl watching. This girl may want to more closely resemble the model’s body shape and start to restrict her diet and exercise excessively to lower her body weight and define her muscles. These actions are characteristics of anorexia nervosa. This disorder is a fast but destructive way to lose weight. If the young girl likes the results of placing restrictions on her diet and exercising excessively, she may continue to engage in these destructive behaviors. It will be very difficult for young women and girls, who feel similarly to the young girl in the previous example, to regain confidence without feeling the need to restrict their diet or exercise excessively. Young females are very impressionable, and because the media portrays women as having idealistic body types, they are more likely to develop a disorder such as anorexia nervosa.

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Next, I want to talk about our lives in the age of technology where social media has become a more prevalent danger. Social media only shows the most flattering aspects of someone’s life, meaning no one is going to post a picture where they do not look their best. Filtering social media means an influencer will post a picture in which their body looks ideal. This false portrayal of body shape may discourage young women and girls who are viewing these photos and lower their self-esteem because their bodies do not resemble the bodies of the influencers they look up to. Because young females are impressionable, social media has inadvertently convinced them that they need to have the ideal body. Young women and girls may start to restrict their diet and exercise more to obtain the ideal figure. This behavior can become more extreme and result in the development of anorexia nervosa. Social media’s toxic portrayal of the ideal figure can lead to the gradual development of anorexia nervosa due to the fact that young females are impressionable.

Lastly, some females struggle with anorexia nervosa because they need to feel in control. Having a difficult home life is an example of a situation where a young female may feel out of control and lost. Children are unable to control their poverty level, their parent’s aggression, or anything other than their behavior. These characteristics make for a difficult home life due to either the struggle for necessities or abuse in the home. Sometimes when life feels out of control, there needs to be one thing that can be controlled, and for a lot of young women and girls, it is what they eat. By controlling what they eat and how much they exercise, these females can feel in control of their weight. These young, impressionable women and girls may feel as though if they lost weight or had an idealistic figure, then they would attract more positive attention from their peers. This attention can be a driving factor in addition to needing to feel in control. Needing to feel in control is normal, however, developing an eating disorder to feel this way is unhealthy and dangerous.

Anorexia nervosa is a result of the media’s portrayal of women, the increased usage of social media, and the need to be in control. The media portrays women as being skinny and tall, which can result in restrictive eating and excessive exercise. In addition, social media results in the reduction of self-esteem levels due to the idea that young females need to have ideal bodies. Lastly, young women and girls may need to feel in control of what they eat and how much they exercise due to the influx of factors outside of their control. Thankfully, society has started to include different body types in their portrayal of beauty, which will help young females feel confident in their bodies and not feel the need to conform to an unrealistic beauty standard.

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