Argumentative Essay on Eating Disorders

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Eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy dietary habits. At their core, they’re attempts to deal with emotional issues and involve distorted, self-critical attitudes about weight, food, and body image. It’s these negative thoughts and feelings that fuel the damaging behaviors. Social media acts as a breeding place for these harsh degrading feelings to flourish whether it is Twitter’s constant ana groups, TikTok’s “what I eat in a day” or YouTube’s “how I lost 30lbs in one week”, the constant societal pressure to be smaller is never-ending. As a 17-year-old girl, the pressure is exhausting and overwhelming but to a 12-year-old, or even a 10-year-old the harm that has on their minds is exhaustive. As social media grows in popularity the more our children are going to be exposed to disordered eating and the more we need to educate before it is too late. Our children are losing their battles to eating disorders out of a lack of education, we need to have more extensive and easily digestible eating disorder content at younger levels.

In order for us to help our younger generations, we first must address our own disordered eating. Studies have shown that if influential adult talks about their own disordered eating habits they can impact how their children view their own eating (Eating Disorders in Young Children). For example, after dinner mom is hungry, mom tells kids she’s hungry, mom refuses to eat a snack because she is fasting for the next day, she read online this helps to lose weight. Harmless or even beneficial some people argue to not eat before bed but to the children what they interpret is “I shouldn’t eat when I’m hungry because that’s what mommy does”. This is a common problem associated with the infamous diet culture. Diet culture “suggests that people are more or less good/moral/worthy based on their body size” (NEDA), this mindset is severely detrimental to developing brains and is found all over the internet. Examples from fellow classmates under the prompt of “personal stories/quotes regarding social media and body image?”: “The reality is a lot of the women displayed on special media are underweight” (Sami, University of Washington student), “Social media has made me so so insecure of myself sometimes” (Anonymous, CHS Senior), “The beauty standard is ridiculous and people need to stop” (Chloe, CHS Senior), “Some days I can’t look in the mirror” (Anonymous, CHS Junior), or the one that aches my heart the most, “Seeing influencers definitely makes it hard to accept my own body sometimes” (Camille, Senior) (Anonymous CHS Students). As social media takes over our day-to-day lives, being our main way to communicate and our most popular form of entertainment it is vital we do not follow blindly in the steps of those on the internet. We can better help our children the more we ourselves are educated too including the different types of eating disorders. It’s very easy to believe eating disorders only look one way but the reality is the majority of people have experienced disordered eating and they all look different.

Most media portrayals tend to show only the extreme examples of eating disorders whether it be “to the bone”’s anorexia story or “insatiable”’s example of a binge-eating disorder it is often shown that people with eating disorders can only look one way. This being what is enforced into most of our minds it is very easy to gaslight others and ourselves into believing we are not sick enough to really have an eating disorder. This is a very cruel and unfair mindset as by invalidating our own feelings we do not realize we do qualify for eating disorders such as used, (OSFED, known as Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) in previous editions of the DSM, which was developed to encompass individuals who do not meet strict criteria for anorexia or bulimia but still have a significant eating disorder), despite not qualifying for the mainstream titles someone sick with osfed still experiences the long term physical and mental impacts of this ed (NEDA). This mindset is also problematic for experiences such as that of one of our own students, “Everyone assumes I’m fine because I’m not underweight” (Anonymous CHS graduate) (Anonymous CHS Students). This is something not talked about in school nor taught online. A particularly motivating example is the scars that one develops from the purging aspect of bulimia are permanent and have to be seen every day as a constant trigger of those actions. Many schools teach about, drugs, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes, the long-term impact of those actions, and their consequences. As those consequences are permanent so are the consequences of disordered eating behaviors. If our children are not given the proper and accurate information from trusted adults how can we possibly expect them to make informed decisions for themselves? As influential adults in our children's and community’s lives it is important that we not only educate them on the multiple types of eating disorders, how they can look, and the long-term consequences that come from participating in disordered eating but also educate ourselves as well. “10 million people in the US are suffering from anorexia and/or bulimia nervosa. Millions of others suffer from other types of eating disorders in the US as well” These, numbers too are unfortunately increasing in both boys and younger children, Anorexia being the number one killer for mental illness in the US Our curriculum should be covering more than just what they are and what key signs are if we’d like to keep our kids out of these same statistics (Eating Disorders from The Inside Out by Laura Hill).

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If we continue with the same curriculum we are teaching now we will continue to receive quotes like these from our students, “ I just became overly obsessed with becoming really skinny like girls on Pinterest and brandy Melville models. It was mostly in late middle school like 7th-8th grade and early freshman year. I was OBSESSED with counting calories and eating less than 1,000 a day to lose weight. I was also in a sport going to practice multiple times a week. I would eat rice cakes and foods with absolutely no nutritional value. I became the skinniest I ever had and looking bad at pictures I realized it was not healthy at all. I would also feel bad about eating meals that went over my calorie goals and would be too hard on myself over it. It was not good and I didn’t know what I was doing was bad for my body and my mental health” (Emma, CHS Senior) (Anonymous CHS Students). The statement “I didn’t know what I was doing was bad for my body”, is exactly what we should be trying to avoid. As a school district, it is our responsibility to provide our students with the best nutrition education possible for them to make their own educated choices. By informing our students of why participate in eating disorder behavior we can push to avoid symptoms that come with recovery such as, “When a person with an ED is eating they experience high anxiety, disruptive thoughts, and a lot of noise. This noise constantly sounds like nagging about how guilty they should feel for eating and can last for a long time after eating” (Eating Disorders from The Inside Out by Laura Hill). Unfortunately, even after overcoming an eating disorder this nagging guilt constantly slips in at points of weakness. Many people do not understand why someone with a food-restrictive eating disorder doesn’t “just eat”. The guilt is enough to make one not want to eat but another factor we should consider is “the same way someone with diabetes isn’t blamed for their health, someone with an eating disorder has different pathways in their brain and a different build-up” (Eating Disorders from The Inside Out by Laura Hill). As we talk about the genuine effects that drugs have on one’s brain we should also be talking about the impact eating disorders have on someone’s brain because the chemical composition and effect of the amygdala and other key pieces of the brain change. “A person suffering from Anorexia does not get the signal from the brain letting them know they are hungry and therefore are not lying when they say they're not hungry during meal time. When they eat they do not taste the food which triggers the amygdala to panic which encourages them to stop eating” When our children tell us they are not hungry because of an eating disorder we often think they are pushing to not eat for other reasons but this the reality (Eating Disorders from The Inside Out by Laura Hill). This symptom, unfortunately, is very common and some people recovering from anorexia never regain the sense of being hungry.

An argument heard from many counselors, district offices, and school systems is that if we expose our children to eating disorders too young it will increase the risk that they will develop an eating disorder. While an understood concern I found that 63% of Camas students said they have been diagnosed with an eating disorder or experienced disordered eating. This is more than half of a small group of our students showing that with the lack of eating disorder education we have now 6 out of 10 children will develop disordered eating anyway many of them claiming they didn't know what they were doing was wrong. With social media’s impact on our children, they are learning more about body checking (“People who are very concerned about their weight and shape can spend a lot of time checking their body and appearance. For example, they may study themselves in the mirror repeatedly, compare their body to other people’s bodies or to images they see in the media, focus in on certain parts of their body, pinch their skin in an effort to detect fat, measure parts of their body using their hands or a tape measure, repeatedly assess the fit of their clothing or weigh themselves frequently”) and body avoidance (“Some people find that they avoid looking at their body altogether, or alternate between periods of body checking and body avoidance. Avoidance might include wearing loose clothing, avoiding looking at themselves in the mirror or when getting changed, avoiding clothes shopping, avoiding close physical contact with others, or avoiding swimming or some sports”) at much younger ages (Centre for Clinical Interventions). By not providing them with accurate information and examples of eating disorders they fall victim to that of body checking and body avoidance portrayed in mainstream media. Body avoidance is particularly unhelpful because the focus on weight and shape is still there. Avoiding things that we fear also tends to make our fears worse. By avoiding looking at themselves, they do not get the chance to find out whether their fears about their weight and look are true or not. This prevents them from developing more balanced ways of thinking (Centre for Clinical Interventions). By not extensively teaching about eating disorders we leave our kids to the hands of social media to discover their symptoms and illness. We are leaving them unprepared for the realities of life and confidence in everyday situations.

You cannot protect or even prevent anyone from an eating disorder but raising awareness of eating disorders and improving curriculum so that our children can make informed decisions about their eating behavior in attempts to catch the illness in an early stage can significantly increase their recovery rate. Also speaking and voting about affordable and accessible treatment for eating disorders can greatly improve recovery rates as well. Many people who need help are afraid to seek it because they are ashamed and embarrassed or simply don't know where to go to get help. As a district we should be held responsible for the health and wellness of our students, and our own children, it is our responsibility to show them the dangers, and educate them enough about the varieties and severities of eating disorders so that they are prepared with the correct information to better help themselves.

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Argumentative Essay on Eating Disorders. (2023, December 13). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 24, 2024, from
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