America’s Sick Obsession With the Perfect Body

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia nervosa is “one of the most common psychiatric diagnoses in young women.” And while anorexia is becoming an increasingly common trend among our generation, it isn’t without dangerous side effects, some of which include a slow heart rate, low blood pressure, hair loss, and osteoporosis. Even more disturbing, the NEDA claims that between 5-20 percent of those suffering from anorexia will die.

There are various causes for anorexia nervosa according to the NEDA, including depression, anxiety, a feeling of lack of control, troubled personal relationships, a history of being teased or bullied, and a history of physical or sexual abuse.

Besides these causes, the NEDA also lists a few social factors that can contribute to anorexia, including “Cultural pressures that glorify ‘thinness’ and place value on obtaining the ‘perfect body’ and ‘Cultural norms that value people on the basis of physical appearance and not inner qualities and strengths.'”

With the media glorification of the perfect body, it’s no wonder that more and more girls, of every age, suffer from body image problems. We’ve all seen the images on TV or pictures in magazines of too-skinny celebrities, such as Nicole Ritchie , Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Victoria Beckham.

While many of these celebrities (except for Mary Kate Olsen, who attended rehab for anorexia in June 2004) insist that they are not suffering from any eating disorder, it is tough not to view starving oneself as a viable option for shrinking down to the size of someone like Nicole Ritchie.

Even at St. John’s, it’s not uncommon to walk through Marillac and see girls picking at their salads and drinking diet Coke, with no doubt the hopes of dropping a few pounds, regardless of the fact that they are a normal weight. This type of mentality is unacceptable and yet, with the media constantly shoving images of anorexic celebrities in front of our faces, it really is difficult for females to have a positive body image. Couple this with the fact that when a famous female puts on a few pounds, the media scrutinizes her for gaining too much weight and deems her fat.

There are, however, a few celebrities out there who haven’t succumbed to the super-skinny look. Jennifer Anniston, Mandy Moore, and Tyra Banks are three celebrities who do not try to lose weight to appease the media. In fact, it is women like them, who are comfortable and confident in their own skin, who make the best role models for the young women of our generation.