image source privatespace.com
With the growing influence of social media, one of the biggest concerns around the lives of teens and young adults is the increase in cases of body image issues. The rapid advancement of technology has given the field of modelling and photography the access to tools with unexceptional editing and photoshopping abilities, which has given them the power to imitate perfection.
Perfection, however beautiful to look at, cannot exist in reality, but it does influence the way our audience looks at us and at themselves, increasing one’s expectations from their own body. When these expectations are not met, it leads to a lot of insecurities and body image issues that, if not dealt with immediately can lead to many mental and psychological issues. One of such being Eating disorders.
Before we begin listing down the most common types of eating disorders, let us first understand what an eating disorder actually means. Unlike the general conception of the term, eating disorders have little to do with food and more to do with the psychological state of a person. One of the root causes of an eating disorder is the extreme obsession with body weight and body shape, that a person may develop on their own, or due to the negative influence from outside. When our brain consumes information that sets a particular belief about what an ideal body is, we tend to carry that belief around and compare our physical body with what our belief says, and thus starts the obsession. But we’ll keep this discussion about the causes of eating disorders for sometime later. Right now, let's look at the two most common types of ED caused due to body image issues.
- ANOREXIA NERVOSA
The most common type of ED is Anorexia Nervosa, and it is also the most recognised one. Mostly common amongst the women, this ED is concerned with having extreme obsession with weight loss and being skinny. The affected individuals, however underweight, view themselves as overweight and fat. They tend to skip meals frequently and monitor their weight regularly. In certain extreme cases, these individuals tend to avoid certain types of food, or deliberately induce vomiting in order to starve their body to reach their desired weight. It is to note that not everyone affected by Anorexia is necessarily underweight. Anorexic people can have normal body weight or even be overweight. What makes anorexia evident, is the unhealthy obsession with weight loss and taking drastic steps to achieve the same.
Types : a) Starvation - the individual starves their body, skips meals, avoids a certain type of food that are known to cause weight gain, etc
b) Binge Eating & later Ejecting - In this case, the affected person eats food in large quantities and then uses different ways to compensate for the food intake. They do so by inducing vomiting, taking laxatives, over exercising, etc
Common Symptoms :
- Drastic drop in weight -
- Avoiding food/Types of food
- Inducing Vomiting/Taking Laxatives
- Excessive Exercising
- Are often in denial about being excessively underweight
- Extreme fear of gaining weight
- Irregular eating patterns
If not cured can result in :
- Thinning of bones
- Brittle and thin nails and hair
- Hair Loss
Another wildly popular ED is bulimia nervosa. In this case, the individuals affected consume large amounts of food per sitting, as if on “auto-pilot” and they do not have control over their consumption. Each eating session goes on until the person is in extreme physical pain. What’s common between Bulimia and Anorexia nervosa is the fact that after every binge, the individual tries to compensate for the “calorie intake” by again indulging in forced vomiting, use of laxatives and other metabolism increasing drugs, over exercising, etc.
Common Symptoms :
- Frequently overeating without having any sense of control
- Extreme fear of body gain
- Indulging in different purging methods
Not just Eating Disorders, but many other psychological diseases can attack a human because of body image issues, like body dysmorphia - where the affected individual develops an obsessive hatred towards one part of their body. What makes this even worse is the fact that body dysmorphia is chronic and worsens with time and age. Therefore it is essential to regulate what is being fed to the minds of our future. In Norway, influencers, advertisers and models need to get approval from the government before posting or sharing any photoshopped or tuned image on social media. They are required by the law to declare any type of modification on their photos using a ministry-approved label. Something we can definitely learn from the Norwegian Government. We’ll meet again soon! Until then, stay healthy, stay fit ♥️