Misconception of Eating Disorders
by Prangthong Srirungthum
Skinny is the new black! – That phrase is becoming more common these days, and who knows, it may be the cause of many young women unconsciously developing eating disorders. A lot of people, especially young girls, are severely suffering from eating disorders, yet it seems like society doesn’t have much knowledge about this disease such as; how it occurs and that people who are suffering aren’t just people with bad eating habits.
I’m not sure whether it is an individual’s attitude or their perception of society that influences people’s mindset towards eating disorders in a way that makes it sounds far less serious and therefore somewhat ignorable. Personally I have sympathy for people who are struggling and suffering from eating disorders. I feel the need for everyone to become aware of how serious eating disorders are because there is more to it than just a person being too fat or too skinny. I feel that people need to understand the contributing factors in order to be able to prevent people from such harms.
In brief, eating disorders are referred to abnormal eating habits, which can be categorized into many different types and have different negative health effects on human beings physically and mentally. The factors contributing to the symptoms are said to be biological and external factors, and are controllable and preventable. It is still a medical debate as to whether or not this illness is genetically inherited. The two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia, which is a case of being extremely thin as a result of not eating, and Bulimia, which describes a person who will binge out on food only to throw it all up right after in an attempt to not gain weight.
Considering that there is limited access to actual medical information, lack of attention from society, and the media influences towards this disease, it’s understandable that people tend to have the wrong idea about eating disorders and typically misconceive the symptoms. There are a lot of people who think that it is not a real or serious sickness, that it is only developed based on an individual’s mental state of mind, and there are no external factors involved.
Considering how much the media has an impact on structuring the body idealization and suggesting that the value of people is based on being attractive, I am not surprise that it does actually influence people’s mindset, causing them to think that everything is all about body image. This causes people with eating disorders to have less concern about the health risks and care more about the beauty aspect even though it can lead to severe and possibly fatal illnesses. It is a shame that the mass media often delivers the complete wrong message which interferes with individuals’ thoughts on eating disorders, particularly with young women, by creating a distorted cultural idealization regarding body size and their value towards self-love that eventually affects their eating behaviors. Supermodels are idolized because society is telling us that skinny is beautiful, but in reality there are cases where models are also having problems with their own eating behaviors.
People do not take the subject of eating disorders as serious as they should due to the fact that they believe this illness does little harm and it is difficult to diagnose. However, the facts show the exact opposite. This sickness could happen to anyone and patients may experience different symptoms depending on the surrounding factors. Eating disorders are also considered a mental illness which is just as serious as the physical illness.
Giving people a full understanding of Eating disorders will raise awareness in society about preventative solutions. Simply by encouraging the community to have different perceptions of body image and by creating a message that being healthy is what truly makes you beautiful can help prevent these illnesses from developing. Eating disorders are life-threatening and are becoming more common. If we, as a society, start to surround those who are struggling with good vibes, love and understanding, and inform them of the dangers of their disease, these people can eventually overcome their insecurities about their bodies and learn to love themselves in a healthy way.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an eating disorder, please seek medical treatment from a professional doctor.