Most women in America (and in many other places around the world) believe themselves to be fat. While it is certainly true that obesity is on the rise (due mostly to the nature of the food today and what they do to it before you eat it), there is also a massive problem, fueled in great part by the fashion industry, of women who believe that they need to starve themselves in order to be attractive.
The truth is that the body type that is portrayed in the fashion industry is the body type of only 5% of women in the world and most of the women in that 5% have that body type as a result of an unhealthy obsession with dieting. This means that out of 3 million women, only 8 will fit the image of the “supermodel” and almost all of the teenage girls in the US today aspire to be one of those 8. The result, among those who seriously try to achieve that goal is anorexia and starvation.
Take a look at the following image, taken from http://www.messynessychic.com/2011/12/29/starved-of-a-realistic-female-body-image-flesh-curves-this-way-2/
This is what your daughter might be striving for. Have a look at this image, taken from the same source.
This ought to be a serious wake up call to all of us.
Now take a look at what was considered sexy back in the 50s and 60s:
Most of us, would interveene if our daughter looked like this:
and yet the fashion industry continues to present anorexic women as the “sexy” that men desire thus fueling an epidemic in American teenage girls.
Listed below are some of the most striking teen anorexia statistics in the United States:
- 90 percent of all Americans afflicted with an eating disorder are female. An estimated five percent of adolescent girls are currently suffering from anorexia.
- 53 percent of American girls report that they are unhappy with their bodies at age thirteen. 78 percent are unhappy with their bodies at age seventeen.
- Many teens admit that they are influenced to change their body because of popular media
- Teen anorexia affects all social classes
- In teens, anorexia is often triggered by a traumatic event, such as abuse or rape
- Ten percent of teens with anorexia are male
- Anorexia is most common during the teen years
- Anorexia can start as early as age 8
- Around 15 percent of teenage girls have some type of eating disorder or eating disorder related behavior
- More than 5 million Americans suffer from eating disorders every year, according to the NIH
- Around a thousand women die each year from anorexia
- 5 to 20 percent of teens who have anorexia will die for reasons related to the disorder
While it’s hard as a parent to fight against peer pressure and the influence of the media on the young minds of our children and grandchildren, there are certain things that we can do to counter this dangerous and often times fatal trend.
- Talk with your teen about body images and expectations, especially when you see an unhealthy body image being “sold” on TV as sexy.
- De-emphasize body shape and weight in favor of body health
- Teach your children to eat healthy.
- Don’t talk negatively about your own weight or body image. Remember that kids often emulate adult behavior.
- Educate yourself. One of the saddest things about this generation is the accessibility of information on the worldwide web that goes untapped. Find out what healthy food is and what isn’t (study GMO and non-grass fed beef, for example and what they do to the body. Watch “Food Inc.“, “The World According to Monsanto“, “Got the Facts on Milk” and other documentaries on food and nutrition).
- Keep an eye on your children’s Facebook page and other social media pages. If you are going to allow kids online, you need to educate yourself on how to properly monitor their online activity as well as make sure you understand how they might try to hide their activity.
- Compliment your children often about qualities that have nothing to do with their looks (It’s okay to tell your daughter that she’s beautiful, every girl wants to hear that she’s pretty, just make sure that she hears about what makes her special isn’t just about her looks, especially not about how much she weighs).
- Monitor what magazines your child is reading. Most of the fashion and teen magazines out there promote an unhealthy view of body weight and shape.
- Help your children develop interests and hobbies that are going to make them feel good about themselves.
- Spend time with your children, especially individual time. Quality time reinforces to your teenager that he or she is someone who is lovable and someone that people enjoy being with and that they don’t have to become something else to be accepted.
- If there is any doubt whatsoever about whether or not one of your children has an eating disorder, look up the signs and symptoms and get professional help immediately.