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McGuinn 1

Lauren McGuinn

Ms. Gardner

English 10H/6

9 May 2017

Eating Disorders: Diseases, Not Fashion Statements

Theres no doubt that many teenage girls today scroll through their Instagram feed

admiring Victorias Secrets new posts of their iconic, skinny, and perfect models, and the

teens believe that they need to achieve those models bodies in order to fit societys standards or

achieve self love/confidence. Eating disorders are emotional disorders that are characterized by

the obsessive need to lose weight by skipping meals or refusing to eat. Eating disorders,

including anorexia or bulimia, have damaged the lives of many women across the globe. Body

image and confidence in ones self is a significant struggle in both women and men everyday,

and in some cases, these struggles drive individuals to eating disorders, a coursen they believe is

the way to obtain control and confidence in themselves and the satisfaction of living up to

societys standards of a perfect body. Although eating disorders can be derived through bacterial

issues or habitual behavior, the main causes include parents aspects of dieting and weight at a

young age, societys pressures of what is a perfect thin female figure, and time spent on social

media while worshipping dieting and fashion models can drive women to achieve these

standards through eating disorders.

Recently, some argue eating disorders can be found in bacterial infections. Researchers

at the UNC School of Medicine found that people with anorexia nervosa have very different

microbial communities residing inside their guts compared to healthy individuals implies New
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York Times journalist Erica Goode, and that this bacterial imbalance is associated with some of

the psychological symptoms related to the eating disorder (Goode). According to Dr. Quenton

Wessels of Lancaster University, the diseases begin when the body encounters a certain bacteria

and switches on an immune response which accidentally begins to attack healthy parts of the

body (Knapton). The immune system responds to something that is foreign by producing an

antibody which then attacks something else. Autoantibodies acting on the brain's limbic system

could induce extremes of emotion including disgust and fear (Knapton). Ultimately, researchers

have explored the causes through bacterial complications and have found bacterial imbalance

and certain bacteria interacting with the immune system have triggered eating disorders in

humans. Many will agree that eating disorders can be linked to bacterial issues found throughout

the body, such as the gut, immune system or a bacterial imbalance. Having a physiological basis

provides a new avenue for treatment, rather than in a psychological aspect, involving therapy.

This alternate explanation is one step closer in treating eating disorders. However, the most

compelling causes for eating disorders can be triggered through societys pressures of a thin

figure for women and social medias influences of iconic models and promotion of perfect thin


In many cases for women, the causes of eating disorders can be found in bacterial

imbalances or bacterial problems in the immune system. Nevertheless, a wide range of

individuals can agree or even relate that societys and social medias aspect and promotion of an

ideal thin female figure can absorb the minds of adolescent girls. However, the cycle and base

begins with the parents teaching their kids about nutrition and diet. Parents could be feeding their

children these same ideals -perfect, thin bodies- which would allow them to believe these
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standards, provoking thoughts that they need to be thin in order to be accepted by their parents

and friends. Parents sometimes unconsciously reinforce the message, she said, if they focus on

pounds and dieting rather than on teaching children to eat nutritiously and exercise to be

healthy--not to be skinny (Neergaard). Discourage child dieting, skipping meals or using diet

pills. Instead, parents and doctors should encourage more family meals together, emphasizes the

American Academy of Pediatrics, an organization of 66,000 pediatricians committed to the

optimal physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing for all infants, children, adolescents,

and young adults, promote a positive body image and avoid talking about weight in favor of

promoting a balanced diet and exercise for fitness (Neergaard). Often teens start out

misinterpreting those prevention messages about healthy eating, eliminating foods and calories

they don't need to (Neergaard). Based on this research, parents sometimes unconsciously teach

societys message to their children, influencing them at a young age. Parents can be mistaken of

teaching their children that dieting and weight leads to a healthy body, rather than eating

nutritiously and exercising. Teens have been seen to misinterpret the promotion of dieting and

healthy eating, such as skipping meals is a way to diet, and eating very small portions of fruit

and vegetables is healthy eating. Skinny does not mean healthy; dieting does not mean healthy.

A parents role in a childs life is critical, children feed off their parents beliefs at home and

when it comes to promoting societys message on body image, children will adopt the idea and

take it to extremes, such as eating disorders in order to achieve a certain body shape. In

summation, adolescent girls who are taught about dieting and pounds by their parents can result

in the wrong message, confusing them on what healthiness truly means. With the exposure at a

young age, they are instructed that being thin results in acceptance in society.
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Furthermore, women athletes have confessed societys pressures of a thin, perfect body

have interfere with their ability to maintain an athletic body. Jennifer Carter, Ohio State

University Sports Medicine Center's director of sport psychology, agrees there are specific risk

factors for eating disorders in female athletes, such as a belief that thinness equates to better

performance (whereas in male athletes more muscularity equates to better performance),

revealing uniforms and, sometimes, a type of perfectionist personality (Auerbach). Both male

and female athletes might have what a 2011 sports psychology study by A. P. Karin de Bruin and

others term "contextual" body images--meaning two different body images, one for sport and one

for their lives outside sport (Auerbach). Misty Hyman, an Olympic gold medalist swimmer,


They are athletes who push their bodies to the brink in a sport that rewards sleek and strong. But

at the same time it can also be difficult for women who go through normal, natural life processes:

puberty, erratic eating schedules in college and perhaps that extra scoop of ice cream, wedding

dress shopping, pregnancy. All those experiences can affect a woman's body image, particularly

in this Photoshop-driven culture that idealizes a specific female figure--one that's slim in all the

right places and curvy in a select few spots (Auerbach).

With societys pressures of a thin body, female athletes might adopt contextual body images,

resulting to eating disorders to achieve societys ideal female body type so they can achieve their

athletic standards and societys standards. Because of societys brainwashing of a specific female

figure, women athletes can experience distorted thoughts that thinness leads to better

performance. Ultimately, with society idealizing an ideal thin body type for women, it can lead
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female athletes to adopt insecurity with their athletic figure and believe they need to fit societys

beliefs, in a result, leaving them with contextual body images achieved by eating disorders.

Ultimately, the biggest factor that can contribute to eating disorders in teenage girls and

young women is their time on social media admiring iconic dieting models and fashion models

on Instagram, Facebook, and online magazines. The French modeling industry took body image

and model hiring to the next level in hopes of preventing body inspiration:

Last year, the French Parliament approved measures prohibiting modeling agencies from hiring

dangerously thin models and requiring altered photographs of models to be clearly labeled. The

measures were intended to prevent young and vulnerable models from being pressed into

becoming excessively thin, to protect against anorexia and to push back against images of

unhealthily thin women featured in glossy fashion magazines (Bilefsky).

The decision by the advertising authority, an independent industry regulatory group, barred

Gucci from using the image in advertisements in Britain. The ruling comes amid a longstanding

debate on both sides of the Atlantic about the perils of overly thin models projecting an

unhealthy body image for women (Bilefsky). As when critics lashed out against idealized

images of "heroin chic" in the early 1990s, some have voiced concern that fashion houses are

encouraging potentially hazardous behaviors by glamorizing models who are rail-thin

(Bilefsky). According to Colleen Thompson, an author for Mirror Mirror Eating Disorders, a

recent study linked time spent on Facebook to increased rates of distorted eating (Thompson).

A 2011 study [1] from the University of Haifa examined 248 young women from the ages of 12

to 19 and found that more exposure to social media contributed to higher rates of eating disorders

and related concerns. reveals Courtney Howard, Director of Operations & Business
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Development at Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope, Specifically, the more time these

young women spent on Facebook, the more likely they were to struggle with bulimia,

anorexia, physical dissatisfaction, negative physical self-image, negative approach to eating and

more of an urge to be on a weight-loss diet (Howard). Not only have officials, researchers and

industries seen the influence social media has, I have seen it with my own eyes in a family

member. Ever since I could remember, whether at family gatherings or our traditional trips to

Lake Tahoe there has never been a day where my cousin hasnt said Im too fat, I need to go

on a diet, I need to photoshop my legs in this pictures or Im so ugly, while continuing to

scroll through her Instagram feed looking at thin, iconic fashion and diet models. Thankfully she

has not had experience with eating disorders; however, for many women these thoughts are a

stepping stones towards it. With social medias idealization of ideal female figures, young

women are taught that being thin is necessary and what it means to be successful; with the

promotion of thinness, young women are getting the impression that being thin means youll be

beautiful, found attractive and the only way to be accepted in society. Social media has a

powerful authority in pop culture, teens are constantly trying to fit in with the latest and greatest,

and when the on going latest and greatest is a thin body, young girls are immediately in the

mindset of insecurity of their own bodies and desire for thinness. Therefore, all shapes and sizes

should be accepted. No one size should obtain authority.

In conclusion, societys pressures of what is a perfect thin female figure, time spent on

social media while worshipping dieting and fashion models, and parents aspects of dieting and

weight at a young age can drive women and young girls to achieve these standards through

eating disorders. Societys long lasting standards of what a perfect female body should look
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like erases the beauty of self love and acceptance in an individual. It removes individualism and

the fact that every shape and figure is beautiful, acceptable, and something every women should

be proud of. As character Brooke Davis says in One Tree Hill, Anorexia is a disease, not a

fashion statement.
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Works Cited

Auerbach, Nicole. "Swimmers Fight Body Image Battle." USA TODAY, 04 Aug, 2016, pp. C.4,

SIRS Issues Researcher,

Bilefsky, Dan. "British Group Says Model for Gucci is 'Unhealthily Thin'." New York Times, 07

Apr, 2016, pp. A.4, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Goode, Erica. "Anorexia may be Habit, Not Resolve, Study Finds." New York Times, 13 Oct,

2015, pp. A.19, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Howard, Courtney. Does Social Media Cause Eating Disorders in Children? Eating Disorder

Hope, 2 Oct. 2016,

Knapton, Sarah. "Anorexia may be Caused by Bacterial Infections." Sunday Telegraph, 24 Apr,

2016, pp. 11, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Neergaard, Lauran. "Advice for Parents on Body Image Amid 2016 Campaign Insults."

Washington Times, 06 Oct, 2016, SIRS Issues Researcher,

Thompson, Colleen. Society and Eating Disorders. Eating Disorder Help,