“It’s not just with young girls but with adults as well. From their perspective, whenever they see someone thin or skinny they see a confidence and glow they feel they don’t have. I think some believe that being skinny will provide that. Others have fallen into despair and wonder if it’ll ever be enough” – Charlie.
Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder that affects around one in 100 girls and it can be a result of depression, self-loathing or bullying. It comes in whispers but it gets louder ever time. It feels as if an evil presence is slowly taking over the mind and body. For the outside world, they seem perfectly normal but behind closed doors they are far from it. Every individual is different in their struggles. Some go days without eating more than 500 calories, while in more extreme cases, individuals mutilate themselves in an attempt to “cut the fat out”.
Amanda is a 15 year old girl who has suffered from anorexia since she was 11 and although she acknowledges that she does have a dysfunctional relationship with food, the idea of being 47kgs is embedded in the forefront of her mind.
“My relationship with food is mostly a hate/hate relationship, whenever I eat or want to eat I always end up upset with myself. I believe my eating disorder and depression was mostly based on my mental issues and having low self esteem. I used to cut myself and although I haven’t touched a razor in months, I will have urges” – Amanda.
“I have tried diets mainly based on calorie consumption. Things like 500-600 calories a day, eat a calorie – exercise a calorie. I’ve done extremes such as skipping breakfast, lunch, then puking up dinner. I had been doing the diet of not eating then puking for a month or so and lost a lot of weight until my scale broke and not seeing that number sent me into a downward spiral of binging and what’s considered a normal diet”, says Amanda.
In the world of technology, social media platforms such as Tumblr have become extremely popular among young people. Online communities promoting pro ana is a way for girls who suffer from Anorexia Nervosa to come together and motivate each other to reach their goals. Even though she doesn’t particularly promote pro ana, 15 year old Tayler runs a blog detailing her own struggles with her eating disorder.
“When I was 11, I started to dislike what I saw in the mirror and I hated being in pictures and wearing clothes that showed even a little bit of skin, and by 13 I started eating less and avoided pictures and being in public as much as possible, and I just hated myself so much. Nothing has really changed since that point, but it does one day”, says Tayler.
“I’m not really sure how my issues started, I’m guessing that it was the teasing from my brother and then a few years ago he lost a lot of weight and was really thin and I guess I was jealous. Then, I discovered thinspo and thinspiration blogs on Tumblr and I saw all of these beautiful, thin girls and I couldn’t stop wishing that I looked like them and I wanted to be them, so I started eating less and working out more in hopes that one day I would look like them”.
It’s difficult to pin point exactly what triggers eating disorders such as Anorexia because there are so many contributing factors but it can be assumed that public figures and the media have a big influence. Society has developed a criteria of what the perfect person should look like and refuse to accept those who have different bodies and fall outside of that criteria. Although the status quo is changing and its becoming apparent to people that its ok to not be a size zero, teenagers are highly influenced by what they see online and on television and will bully and ostracize anyone who is different.
“Most people, especially young girls are pressured by society to be thin and beautiful like these celebrities. In schools, there is a big issue surrounding bullying among students because some are bigger than others or aren’t as active and as pretty as the rest. Young girls see celebrities as the perfect specimen because they are rich, beautiful, skinny and are loved by everyone. This makes them feel insecure about their bodies, which can result in these disorders”, says psychologist Charlie.
Something simple like restricting calories or being obsessed with numbers and how much food goes in the body are signs of anorexic tendencies and shouldn’t be ignored because it can develop into something worse.
“Most people that have eating disorders hate themselves and don’t eat or cut themselves as a way to punish their bodies. Furthermore, people who have controlling and obsessive personalities are also prone to developing eating disorders because they get obsessed with numbers and how much goes into their bodies and how many calories are burnt” – Charlie