America’s children are starving

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America’s children are starving

starving children

starving children

lidiahzipp1

starving children

lidiahzipp1

lidiahzipp1

starving children

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More than 30 million men, women, and children in the United States are struggling with eating disorders. These disorders are silent, crawling killers that slip through the cracks in families, mental health, and self-perception. They are real. They are deadly, and they are right under your nose.

There is no single, one-size-fits-all explanation for why people develop and have eating disorders. There are different disorders spurred by different causes affecting different people. Further, hardly any two people have precisely the same diagnosis. More often than not, a bill of mental health, where an eating disorder is present, is hardly ever otherwise clean. An abundance of other ailments coincides with the likes of Bulimia Nervosa, Anorexia Nervosa, and Binge-Eating Disorder. Disorders like depression, anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, trauma, and OCD are all common issues that correspond with and contribute to eating disorders.

A multitude of aspects contributes to eating disorders. Things like biochemical dispositions, societal pressures, interpersonal relationships, and other psychological issues all have a hand in what causes an eating disorder. Biologically, there are often chemical imbalances in the brain where things like appetite and hunger are controlled. The environments people live in and the eating habits they pick up from the people around them also have tremendous roles in the realm of things that can contribute to an eating disorder. Eating disorders can stem from a history of physical abuse, low self-esteem, or feelings of complete loss of control over one’s life.

There is all of that, but then one needs to look at the ways American society contributes. Here in America, a walk through the malls is less a casual trip to pick up a new t-shirt and more a museum exhibit for unhealthy and retouched standards of what someone’s body “ought to” look like and never will. America today, is in the same breath, entirely overindulgent (in 2014 thirty seven percent of adult Americans were obese) and a breeding ground for malnourishment.

Plastered on billboards, the covers of magazines, and the sides of buildings are touched and retouched, shining, glimmering, perfect people. They are trim, athletic, without blemishes, and above all, startlingly unreal. Teenagers and adults alike in America are chasing visions of what they want to look like when the people photographed do not even look like “themselves.” Even the more progressive advertisements, like the Aerie Real Ad Campaign, fail to illustrate accurate representations of men and women today. Even though America has made some recent strides towards more inclusive advertising, there continues to be an unbreakable barrier between the reality of what people look like and America’s willingness to broadcast a realistic image. Insecurities sell. Businesses profit millions and millions of dollars off people’s inability to find self-acceptance.

According to a study conducted by the National Eating Disorder Organization, over 30 million Americans will have an eating disorder at some point in their life. Well over half of those people being women, and the largest percentage of that group being adolescent women. In a survey put out at Sartell High School that elicited 204 responses, almost nineteen percent of students surveyed reported having struggled with an eating disorder.

That is approximately thirty-eight students in a group of two hundred and four definitively saying that they have struggled with an eating disorder. Further, 62.3% of students reported knowing someone who has struggled with an eating disorder. Moreover, 57% of students reported personally feeling they are not well-represented by the media.

When asked if there was anything wrong with American media, these were some students’ responses:

“I think the particular body types that the media portrays as attractive, especially for women, are damaging and unhealthy. This is a dangerous practice, as it promotes eating disorders in both males and females.”

“Models in magazines are extremely skinny because of photoshop… it’s wrong because little girls who are growing up thinking that this model in this magazine is beautiful… everyone is beautiful no matter what gender/race/size/makeup/natural look they choose. Everyone is beautiful.”

“Something wrong with advertising is the amount of photoshop that they use to edit the picture of the model. It shows that this is supposed to be the perfect body type, but we had to modify her body to make it perfect.”

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