Social Conduct of Beauty

Sarah Jongejan, Journalist

Skinny, attractive, fit. Society’s belief in a perfect body image. Who knew that this common belief around the United States would have affected millions of lives. The expectations of society and their thoughts on the “ideal body” have caused millions of people to develop one of the deadliest mental illnesses, eating disorders.

What is an eating disorder? Well, it’s a deadly mental illness that involves complex relationships with food and body images. There are many possible causes for eating disorders, which can be developed or passed on genetically. Common ways eating disorders are developed are low self-esteem, pressure to lose weight from family and friends, the normality of attractiveness promoted by magazines and social media, using food as a way to cope with negative emotions, and “black or white” thinking as in “being fat is bad” and “being thin is good”.

Binge-eating disorder (BED) is the most common ED (eating disorder) in the US. It’s more common than autism, Alzheimer’s, and breast cancer. The definition of this eating disorder is in its name, binge-eating, or consuming a lot of food quickly to the point of discomfort. It could be from eating quicker than usual, eating a large amount of food when not feeling hungry, feeling embarrassed of the amount of food eaten, or feeling guilty and depressed after a meal. Risks that can be developed by BED are the absence of the period cycle for women, decrease in testosterone for men, osteoporosis (thinning of the bones), nausea, and kidney problems.

Another common eating disorder in the US is anorexia nervosa. It is mainly categorized as self-starvation and a huge drop in weight. It has one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric diagnosis and is an extremely serious condition. Anorexia nervosa is usually driven by an extreme fear of gaining weight and becoming fat. Symptoms that can be developed from starvation behaviors are the end of menstrual periods, dizziness, fainting, an intolerance for being cold, bloating after a meal, heartburn, reflux, stress fractures, osteoporosis, depression, anxiety, lack of focus, fatigue, and impatience. Anorexia Nervosa is the most life-threatening ED, having a fatality rate that is twice as big as schizophrenia, triple the rate of bipolar disorder, and triple the rate of depression. For the many deaths caused by this disorder, one out of five is from suicide.

Eating disorders affect all genders. 28.8 million people in the US have been affected by this deadly illness. There are about 10,200 deaths each year due to eating disorders, and 26% of people with eating disorders have attempted suicide. Although anybody could develop an eating disorder, women are 1.75% to 3% more common than men to develop them.

Social media can cause those to feel the need to look like models and perfect bodies promoted online. By being exposed regularly to the “ideal body type” on social media, it harms the body image by constantly comparing yourself to unrealistic expectations. Users also have access to photoshop and filters, which contributes to a false body image. 

On social media, users post the good moments and the good pictures, not their reality. It can make people who see it feel insecure with their appearance compared to what they think they are supposed to be like. Users are brainwashed by the normality of the perfect hourglass body that is promoted around the world, which could be a huge factor in developing an eating disorder.

An eating disorder. A fatal mental illness that has affected millions of lives. The pressure to exceed society’s expectations of the perfect body is one of the most contributing factors to developing one of the deadliest conditions in the world.,into%20the%20unrealistic%20body%20image