Do we all want to be airbrushed too?
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve read in newspapers, or heard on the radio or on television that teenagers are becoming anorexic because of the way fashion magazines are representing models and celebrities. It seems our society wants to believe that young men and women are starving themselves because they want to look like they’ve stepped out of a magazine…
I want to crack down on the assumption that teenagers count calories because they want to look like the girls and boys in magazines. When young people spend all their time exercising, checking food packaging and counting every calorie they eat, it’s not just because of this.
My anorexia probably started in primary school, when I realized I wasn’t the thinnest in the classroom. A new girl joined my school and everyone commented on how thin she was. I suddenly started having doubts about how thin I was myself – I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been fat, I’ve always been quite slim, but then I’ve always been really energetic.
My anorexia wasn’t picked up until I was around 13. After going on holiday, I came back with food poisoning and I felt incredibly sick every time I ate. I lost weight, and when I went back to school people commented on this. I felt my confidence building. I wasn’t ‘starving’ myself to be like girls shown in magazines. I was anorexic because I thought it was helping my confidence, when in the end it did the complete opposite.
By the age of fourteen I was weak bag of bones and my hair was falling out. I had no energy to go play out with my friends, I wasn’t invited anywhere and people acted awkwardly around me – as if they couldn’t mention food at all.
It’s disastrous that our society glamorizes anorexia. It makes it seem out like it’s something you can choose when to have and how it’ll affect you – like if you skip a meal you can wear a badge saying ‘I’m anorexic’.
I spent years in therapy, months in an Eating Disorder Unit, before I finally felt like I was in recovery. I wouldn’t say I’m completely recovered, because I honestly don’t think it’s something that will ever leave me. I think I’ll always struggle in restaurants, and particularly when someone compliments my figure.
My point is that our society needs to learn that teenagers – anyone really – can develop anorexic for a variety of complex reasons, not just because they’re exposed to an unhealthy amount of airbrushing. Everyone has thoughts and feelings about their bodies which are not always easily explained, and dismissing anorexia as the result of just one thing is just not right.
Remember you can find support no matter what you’re going through – contact Get Connected today to find the specialist help you need.
This post was originally part of the Get Connected website. YouthNet and Get Connected merged to form The Mix in 2016.
Published on 08-May-2015
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