The Warped Generation

We are told time and time again by our Mums, Grans, best friends and sometimes even strangers that we are beautiful or skinny or that they would kill to have the ‘assets’ we have. But I am still waiting for the day to come where I don’t look in the mirror Princess Diaries Style think ‘well this is as good as it’s going to get.’ And instead think ‘wow I look good!’ I don’t have an eating disorder, I don’t starve myself and quite honestly the thought of giving up of food would be like losing the love of my life - in fact food probably is the love of my life. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my fair share of food and body issues, and the sad fact is this is totally normal. If there is a girl out there who is one hundred and one percent totally comfortable with their body, the way they look and their eating habits then please, I would like to meet them - because I haven’t so far!

 

It is so common for girls to say “I’m not anorexic” or “I’m not bulimic” as a defence against an unhealthy relationship with food, and believe me I’m the same! I actively avoid magazine articles and discussions on eating disorders because they don’t relate to me. Sadly though, they relate more than I think. In the society we live in, particularly for young women at University, weight, appearance and food are all constantly weighing (pardon the pun) on our minds. We have all stood in front of our mirror before a night out thinking ‘I better not eat too much before we go out, I don’t want to look bloated in my new dress’. This only goes one way – believe me. With nothing in our stomachs we expose ourselves to getting violently ill from alcohol or absolutely starving throughout the night resulting in a shame filled, binge eating sesh of munching on McDonalds in bed. Both of which are a sorry state of affairs, and both stem from our discomfort with food. When we think we need to look nice for an occasion our automatic reaction is to cut out food and deprive ourselves of treats, but somewhere along the way we have forgotten to notice that this is unhealthy.

 

Body dysmorphia is a very common and extremely overlooked issue that results in a distorted self-image that I think a lot of us can relate to. Many girls look in the mirror and see a completely different reflection to what every one else sees; or in the very least they focus on specific parts of that reflection and obsess negatively over them. In fact one in every one hundred girls suffer from body dysmorphia; yet it is not even nearly as heavily publicised as anorexia or bulimia. As women we stare at ourselves in the mirror and complain about the circumference of our waists, the flabbiness of our arms, the sagginess of our knees or the lack of muscles in our thighs. Our friends standing next to us will instantaneously jump in with ‘oh my God no way, I’d kill for your knees!’ Of course sometimes we all just need that ego boost and reminder that we do have absolutely stunning knees that are the envy of the whole campus and although we hate to admit it we are really just looking for some attention. That is totally natural – we all do it; but sometimes the issue runs far deeper.

 

‘Fat’ is a completely over used word and rarely applies to the subject to which it is attached. As soon as we feel uncomfortable in ourselves or recognise something about our appearance that we dislike, that word ‘fat’ rears its ugly head. We associate any form of dissatisfaction with or insecurity about our bodies with weight gain. As a generation we often attempt to blame this on the celebrity culture and societal pressures to be skinny – which do of course play a vital part – or we can aim to change this pattern. The age girls are worrying about their weight or reading the nutrition content on the back of food is getting younger and younger, and I’m sorry ladies, but it is our fault. We are a generation with warped visions and ideas of what it means to be beautiful and if we don’t take make a change NOW then we will pass down our own unhealthy body image to our daughters. As it is National Eating Disorder Awareness week there couldn’t be a better time to start, make this the change you make this Monday. It begins with us, and begins today!

 

If you feel like you or someone close to you is affected by an eating disorder and you would like someone to talk to there will always be people there to help