The worlds of fashion models, beauty pageant contestants, gymnastics, ballet dancers, and figure skaters are full of tales about young girls risking their health and their lives to fit into a preset standard of perfection.
Young girls, in their desire to emulate their role models—start to lose weight—by exercising excessively, restricting calories, making themselves vomit, taking appetite-control or weight-loss pills and laxatives. 60% of high-school girls are trying to lose weight.
The news program 48 Hours had a show titled, The Price of Perfection. It showed a teenage girl who had been struggling with anorexia and bulimia for years. When she was 13 years old, she weighed 28 pounds! She actually went blind in one eye from the stress that constant vomiting put on her body. She said, “The closer I get to thin, thin, thin, the closer I get to perfect.”
Is TV to blame? I read a Harvard study regarding eating disorders in girls from Fiji. It said that symptoms of eating disorders have increased fivefold among teenage girls on Fiji since television came to the Pacific Island nation. TV was widely introduced in 1995, and since then, the percentage of girls that vomit to control their weight has greatly increased.
The study went on to say that the teenage girls look to television characters as role models. The increase in eating disorders was dramatic because Fiji was traditionally a culture that had focused on the importance of eating well and looking robust.
We need to educate ourselves about the seriousness of eating disorders and realize they can have long term consequences on our bodies—and are sometimes fatal.
**If you have an eating disorder - get help!