We are aware that there are a huge number of people with an eating disorder. Although you mostly hear about girls, there are of course guys who struggle with it too. In addition, it is known that eating disorders can cause a variety of health problems in the people who suffer from them.
However , an eating disorder also has psychological and social consequences. Interpersonal relationships deteriorate and people feel less and less at ease emotionally. It is a fact that an eating disorder puts the lives of its victims at risk, so understanding the factors that influence its development is essential. So we can watch and work on it. Remember that these kinds of problems are easier to prevent than to cure!
The relationship between your body image and an eating disorder
When it comes to body image and eating disorders, we need to consider two concepts: dissatisfaction and distortion. Underestimating or overestimating your body—perceiving it in a distorted way—can cause you to perceive an unreal weight.
This generates dissatisfaction with your body image and triggers a range of negative emotions that you try to regulate with food. This puts you in a vicious circle where you are constantly dieting to meet unrealistic beauty standards – if not more than that.
The majority of adolescents and young people worry about their weight. However, when this worry becomes excessive and intense, it can cause a person to take desperate measures to lose just a little weight.
Another risk factor is the body mass index. Studies have shown that reaching adolescence with a high BMI (body mass index), which indicates (although this may not be true at all) that a person is overweight, can lead to the development of an eating disorder.
The role of society in eating disorders
Of course, we must not forget that dissatisfaction and body image distortions are largely fueled, and in some cases even created, by the society of which we are all a part. Being thin is seen as beautiful and being fat as ugly. In addition, being thin is associated with positive values, such as youthfulness, prestige, high self-esteem and elegance. Basically, it is sold as the basic condition of acceptance.
At the same time, being fat, or having a little more pounds than the ideal average, is associated with negative values such as sloppiness, lack of willpower, being dirty, etc. This makes people fall for those “miracle diets” where they can do a lot in a very short time. to lose weight. However, this can get seriously out of hand. As a result, these people end up imposing far too many restrictions on themselves when it comes to food.
This generally affects young women and adolescents more. But why is that? Well, the need to be thin is culturally emphasized more among these groups. As a result, a lot of girls and young women think they need to lose weight to fit into this picture.
But someone’s best friends also play a part. Growing up in a family in which a lot of emphasis is placed on appearance and nutrition is also a risk factor. The same thing can happen if you have friends with eating disorders; it can be contagious.
There are many factors that play a role in eating disorders. By taking these factors into account, we can help young people develop greater self-esteem and personal satisfaction. Something that goes way beyond their body image and their weight… Do your best to do your part too!
Images courtesy of Jairo Alzate, Jennifer Burk and Dominik Martin.