Our generation took body consciousness to a whole new level, with quite devastating results. We were taught to judge others not by the breadth of their character but by the size and shape of their bodies. It saddens me that this obsessive desire to look a certain way has seemingly overridden the desire of being a good person, resisting to gossip, being truthful and loyal to the people around us and acting with integrity. We live in a society where people would sell their souls for a preferred dress size and confidence is based on form and complexion over character development.
What has this philosophy provided us with?
Depression, peer pressure, cosmetic surgery addiction, diet crazes, suicide, bullying, anorexia and bulimia.
And what are we doing about it?
The internet is awash with pro-anorexia websites which thousands of girls – some as young as six – are using to compete against each other in deadly starvation games, a study has found.
More than 500 of these ‘gruesome’ sites exist and encourage vulnerable young women to barely eat and just drink coffee, smoke and take diet pills to look like a ‘goddess’.
Using the phrase ‘starving for perfection’ they say users should eat no more than 500 calories a day – the recommended level is 2,000 for women and 2,500 for men.
They also include ‘thinspiration’ sections with images of super-slim women and in the last year 500,000 girls have admitted visiting them, and one in five were aged between six and 11.
University Campus Suffolk in Ipswich has carried out research into the issue and found than many of these websites are set up by people with anorexia and other eating disorders.
‘It starts with an individual who wants to share their experience and as they get a following they set themselves up as almost Goddess-like,’ researcher Dr Emma Bond, senior lecturer in childhood and youth studies said.
‘When I started this research last January I came across a website set up by a girl who was disgusted with herself because she had put on a few pounds at Christmas. She planned to fast for three days and regain control.
Some of the people are even posting pictures of themselves in very few clothes on thousands of blogs and on social media like Twitter.
Official figures show that one in 200 women and one in 2,000 men have anorexia – which means they starve themselves or exercise excessively to stay slim – although some experts believe the true number is much higher.
Around eight per cent of women and one per cent of men develop bulimia at some point. They binge on excessive amounts of food then make themselves sick or use laxatives to stop gaining weight.
Many sufferers of eating disorders hide their problem from family and friends by pretending they have already eaten to avoid meals and wearing baggy clothes to conceal their skeletal shape.
Doctors believe that anorexia or bulimia is more common in people who are perfectionists, tend to worry a lot or are often depressed.
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