Society’s Influence on Eating Disorders
Society today applies undo pressure on women to conform to a universal definition of beauty. This unnecessary pressure causes women to develop serious insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, which eventually lead to eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. Without society and the media creating a false image of beauty, the percentage of women suffering from eating disorders would decrease tremendously, and women would stop trying to reach a body weight that is unhealthy and also nearly impossible to achieve. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can be stopped, but only if society does something to help prevent it.
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Keel also mentions that girls who diet are eight times more likely to develop and suffer from an eating disorder (61).
Society forces upon women at a young age that if they want to be successful and happy, “they must be thin” (Thompson 1). However, like the cliché, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what one person considers beautiful, another may not. The culture surrounding a woman also influences how she sees herself; it tells women that being thin is being beautiful. Robbins states that those chosen to portray beauty to women are generally “movie stars, TV stars, and high-fashion models” (82-83). Robbins also states that women have learned to accept “the ideas that (1) women should be thin, (2) men like thin women, and (3) they themselves are too heavy” (88).
For women, beauty is seen to be more important than their career, and a stronger emphasis is placed on them to be beautiful. Not too long ago, women were only expected “to be a wife, a homemaker, and mother,” their physical appearance was simply an addition. When younger, girls are told they are supposed to be neat and look pretty. When they did, they were complimented for it, which led to an obsession (Robbins 88-89). Although women are not pressured to get married anymore, many of them still feel the need to be attractive (Robbins 90).
Along with being attractive, “dieting has become an obsession.” Billions of dollars are spent annually on dieting products for people to transform their bodies into society’s ideal look. However, diets do not work, and that is why there are so many of them. Most of the diets currently published in today’s market are extremely unhealthy; they deprive the body of needed nutrition, and many of them lead to health problems (Thompson 1-2). Because society’s message is that being thin is being beautiful, those who are overweight are usually ridiculed and discriminated against (Robbins 85). Robbins mentions that in Julius Caesar, Caesar states “Let me have men about me that are fat,” also stating that he did not trust those “with a lean and hungry look” (83).
Progressing from the Shakespearian Era, society’s idea of how a woman should look has changed drastically. In the 1880s, women were led to believe that they should be “plump.” Today, women are told they must be thin to be attractive. This arises the question: “Does it make any more sense for a modern woman to lose eighteen pounds to be very thin than for her 1880 counterpart to gain eighteen pounds to be pleasingly plump?” (Robbins 85-86). The logical answer is no, but women everywhere risk their health to be what society considers beautiful. However, if the woman feels beautiful without harming herself, then she is beautiful, and she should not feel the need to conform to society’s standards.
Even though women should not feel the need to tailor themselves to society, this can be extremely difficult for teenagers. Many teenagers are led to believe that the only way to obtain popularity...