Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maybe it's not just me?

As I sit here about to watch "What's Eating You?", an eating disorder special on E!, I can't help but think about my own issues. Recently I've realized that a large majority of my friends/peers in high school had eating "issues" (I call them "issues" because it sounds less like a mental health disorder, which is not generally socially accepted...). I can easily count 8 people close to me that dealt with some form of eating/body image issues growing up. This HAS to do with the culture we were brought up in. While we were growing up, so was Howard County (our home town). Howard County was growing to be more affluent and welcomed more upperclass individuals...which is all fine and dandy, until children start comparing themselves to one an other. Things such as wealth and possessions were sometimes out of the hands of teenagers; body, however, was not. Many people struggle with body images because they long to control something in their life, and this is that thing. I am starting to believe that the youth in Howard County struggle so much to control their popularity and their appearance/appeal to others, leading them to strive for the perfect body. Because these pivitol teenage years are full of comparing and modeling, girls can't help but compare and compete with others to work out more, eat less, weigh less, and wear smaller sizes. And yes, I understand that eating disorders are everywhere and Howard County isn't the only area that has a high population of girls suffering from this disorder....BUT, I think the pressure that is put on youth from this area to be the most popular...and the modeling that they see from their mothers and older sisters who are also competing for acceptance among their peers truly influences this issue.

Luckily, for the most part, the girls that I know with these issues have been able to move forward and be strong, gorgeous, successful women. But I have even heard people say that coming home generates those unhealthy behaviors/thoughts again. Which I can completely agree with...there is a fear that the people that knew you as being small will see you bigger and not approve or gossip about that fear causes you to want to make sure you are as attractive and in shape as possible. It is really quite sad. It is sad that an area that is so affluent and breeds some highly intelligent and successful adults, can also pressure young adults to strive for perfection when it is completely unneccessary. hope is that with time, education and societal changes that the next generation in this area won't be so focused on their appearance and perfection. Granted, that is probably impossible because kids will always compare themselves to each other...but I hope that the focus is not on body image. I hope that being active and healthy is the lifestyle that youth aspire to live. It is very interesting that an area that prides itself in having such a wonderful school system and producing such smart and successful kids, doesn't realize that it is also cultivating mental and behavioral health issues that carry on into adulthood.

Be happy. Love yourself...because, at the end of the day, you are the only one that matters.


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