If I ruled the world….. I would make major changes in society. I know this isn’t very possible, but I really like to believe that it is! I was shopping with my husband last night for all the great foods that fit into my meal plan and I went to the check out line and wanted to scream. First, walking through a grocery store is overwhelming enough with all of the food options “thrown in your face,” but when you get to the check out line and you see the magazines, knowing that summer is around the corner, and we see all the airbrushed models and celebrities, it can make your day go from “heck yeah!” to “hell no!” really fast! As I pulled my cart of yogurt to the register (literally…. I’m working on variety here!) I saw a magazine giving tips on the weight loss secrets of our stars who are all OBVIOUSLY underweight! I can claim they are underweight because when I looked like them, people wanted to throw me in the hospital (that gives me the power to make claims like that! Not really, but I can say what I want! Haha). Truthfully, bodies like that are unobtainable and they are not the norm! Our norm in America is somewhere around a size 10 or 12!
Looking at these airbrushed “beautiful” bodies I have come to realize that our society has a long way to go. It’s really hard to look away from the pressures of society and try to “be yourself” because all we see is what society wants. We can all rationally understand that magazines are airbrushed! (if you haven’t been told so… they are…. See the pictures below) So why do we still long to look like them when they don’t even look like that??!!!
As I entered treatment last year I wanted to know why I had this eating disorder – I wanted to find the smoking gun. I wanted to know why I hated and was afraid of food and why I had to keep starving and losing weight. I have been fortunate to have some of the best doctors and professionals on my treatment team and I am understanding this disorder more and more each day. I am starting to see that there are many factors playing a role. It’s almost like a perfect storm that all comes together. First you have the personality of wanting to achieve perfection. We all rationally know this is not possible, but these are the people who want to do it all, and be the best at it all – they have high standards for their self. Many things can cause/trigger eating disorders for people (it’s not just the influence of society and the pressures to be thinner) – past traumas, society influences/standards, terrible family situations, poor coping skills. When this perfect storm mixes, sadly the eating disorder is born. The pressures of society does not help the process of recovery. The idea of body image and self acceptance is difficult and the last to come through this whole process. Even though this isn’t the “cause” of these disorders, it still plays a large role.
Each time I think about how wrong our society has it, I think back to the Fiji article I discussed while in treatment. You can read the article here. This was so disturbing to me! When we think of Fiji we think of a place we all want to go to retreat and be away from the world we live. It is amazing to me that women especially, Fijians “appreciate large, robust bodies.” When I read this I fell in love with the fact that somewhere out there women love who they are! (I can’t wait for the day that I love my body!) Until I read further and realized our Western culture was brought to them through TV in 1995 (before they barely had electricity) and they began to “think of themselves as poor and fat,” and “got the idea they could resculpt their lives” stating “I want their [thin] bodies.” The results of this article were startling. “In 1995, without television, girls in Fiji appeared to be free of the eating disorders common in the West. But by 1998, after just a few years of sexy soap operas and seductive commercials, 11.3 percent of adolescent girls reported they at least once had purged to lose weight.”
It’s terrible to think that after just a few years of our Western culture being exposed to a culture that never had disordered eating they are now left with young girls with disordered eating patterns. By the time they interviewed young girls they showed that 45% of young girls had disordered behaviors. To me, this is not acceptable.
The hardest part of all of this is that we can’t change society and what they think is beautiful. I am coming to learn that the only thing we can do is change the way we see ourselves and how we measure our own worth. It’s very hard when we see so many messages every day that shout what “perfection” looks like, but truthfully…. What is perfection? What do you measure perfection against? Everyone’s definition of perfection is so very different, so this “perfection” I was striving for is simply unattainable.
An eating disorder website spells it out perfectly:
“Images on T.V. spend countless hours telling us to lose weight, be thin and beautiful, buy more stuff because people will like us and we’ll be better people for it. Programming on the tube rarely depicts men and women with “average” body-types or crappy clothes, ingraining in the back of all our minds that this is the type of life we want. Overweight characters are typically portrayed as lazy, the one with no friends, or “the bad guy”, while thin women and pumped-up men are the successful, popular, sexy and powerful ones. How can we tell our children that it’s what’s inside that counts, when the media continuously contradicts this message?”
Supermodels are getting thinner and thinner and the emaciated look is becoming increasingly popular. Growing up, I remember hating any part of my womanly figure and wanting a flat chest and hating any curve that was being created. I didn’t want it to change because if I was thin and sleek I was faster and more put together – just better and more successful!. When people laughed at how small my chest was I knew deep down that I was still on track with maintaining my young girlish and thin figure (sad, I know). Over all, I’m finding that the more we learn to love ourselves and the more we help others to love who they are, we are able to spread the message that defies what society promotes.
Before I end this, I have to give a web “shout out” to the European fashion field for putting a stop to allowing models on the runway when their body fat percentage was too low (or dangerous). Everyone’s body is different, but we are all the same in one way – when we are too thin, we don’t have enough fat on our body to sustain life (or get pregnant) and if your BMI (fat %) is too low, you lose your period. All my life I thought this was a good thing (who wants to deal with that “friend”), but what I didn’t realize is that I was harming my bones and it was a serious sign shouting at me that I’m not healthy. InEuropeif women did not have a high enough fat % they did not run the catwalk – this was one of the first times that a society has fought back to say health does matter! Thanks for that!
So, as loud as I can type — I’m going to give a web scream and say –
CHANGE THE WAY YOU SEE, NOT THE WAY YOU LOOK.
You’re wrong…. I am beautiful!