Exposure to Unrealistic Figures is Driving Eating Disorders in Young People

Although it is often said that eating disorders typically begin during the teenage years and early adulthood, an increasing number of under 12s are now receiving treatment for disordered eating, with figures for admissions increasing more than 100% in less than a decade.  It seems that young girls’ exposure to unrealistic figures may at least partly explain the rise in anorexia and bulimia among tweens, with the ever popular Barbie doll providing a worrying role model.  Although, Barbie’s vital statistics are unnatural and unachievable, this is not appreciated by young girls who try to emulate her figure.

Equally, older girls are bombarded with images of ultra slim models in glossy fashion magazines, which are far from the average woman’s figure and a lot of the time they are significantly underweight.  When teens see these pictures they believe this is how they should look, but don’t necessarily take into account that the images in front of them have been photoshopped.   Television shows also promote unrealistic expectations for body image, with the vast majority of female characters at or below weight recommendations, which only a third of the population achieves naturally.  Finally, young women contemplating weight loss who access pro-anorexia websights, where eating disorders are promoted as a lifestyle choice, are exposed to material that can have a damaging impact on their eating behaviors.

While treatment is available for eating disorders, prevention is always preferable.  To protect young children and women from low self-esteem, which can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, it is essential to raise awareness of how distorted the female figures presented to us are.  Steps to Recovery highlights this in the following article and also considers the link between eating disorders and substance abuse: http://www.stepstorecovery.com/starving-yourself-to-achieve-the-impossible-figure-of-barbie/

 

 

Welcome to my practice! I am a licensed psychologist, specializing in anxiety, addiction, and eating disorders, while also treating a broad range of problematic issues such as depression, low self-esteem, trauma, self-injurious behaviors, and relationship distress.