Growing up as a chubby kid, I always felt and thought that I was overweight. It led me to develop a negative body image which I struggled to overcome. I think it’s very common in teens and young adults. The media perpetuates thin models and a certain standard of beauty. What I have come to learn is that beauty is more than someone’s appearance. With that said, being a former model (what small career I had) I can say that the industry definitely praises thinness over health. This past December France became one more country in addition to Isreal, Spain, and Italy to ban designers from using models that have a BMI below 18. The bill, which requires models to have a medical certificate vouching for what the government deems a healthy BMI, was paired with another recent bill that bans pro-anorexia websites that offer “thinspiration.” All this legislation is an attempt to curb the idealization of dangerously thin in the media.
However, some people are arguing against the legislation claiming that thinness does not always connote disease. There is much more to eating disorders than someone’s BMI, including psychological factors. It’s important that models are healthy but it’s a little simplistic to think there won’t be anymore anorexics if we get rid of thin models. There are people with seemingly healthy BMI’s who still have eating disorders.
I support the intention of this legislation. I am happy knowing that there are legislators who are working toward creating and establishing ways to promote a healthy body image. From early on children are taught by society that their looks matter. With an increased population of children who spend a lot of time in front of the television, being convinced they need to buy this or that product to look better, be better. Super models in all the popular magazines have continued to get thinner. Diet advertisements continually expose us to the notion that losing weight will make us happier. Time and time again it has been proven that diet plans don’t work, a lifestyle change is healthier. We know there is no quick fix to our problems. And yet, we often find ourselves buying into this ingrained mentality that there is something about our physcial appearance that needs to change, never being satisfied with the way we look.
There is definitely more that can be done to curb the idealization of thinness and encourage a healthy body image in teens and young adults. Like the Dove campaign, and Aerie not using photoshop in their ads, brands are turning towards a more body positive culture. But we still have a long road ahead until negative body image is curbed and not such a phenomenon affecting so many young people. The problem is that a negative body image often leads to an eating disorder.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. While a negative body image is not the only factor that leads to eating disorders it is one huge contributing factor.
I share all this with you from a standpoint of someone who has been through an eating disorder. I have been extremely hesitant to talk about my battle for fear of how others may look at me. I know friends and family members read my blog and they may be finding out right this second. But I knew that I had to write this post and begin sharing my story because of my fear. I do plan on sharing more of my story in upcoming posts.
Now, as always, I would love to hear from all of you. I know this post hasn’t been as organized as most of my other ones. But I hope by discussing legislation around models and how a negative body image can lead to an eating disorder we can begin an open and honest discussion about how to live in a healthier society. To not let future generations of girls and boys develop these negative thoughts about themselves. Please leave me your comments below, and share with us if you have overcome negative body image, an eating disorder, and how.
P.S. – If you or anyone you know may be suffering from an eating disorder, I encourage you to seek help. You can find more information at NEDA.org.
Thanks so inch for reading.