Walk into any eatery today and you’ll notice a trend: if there’s a family dining, the plates of the adults and the kids are always more full than those of the adolescents / teenagers. This is simply because persons falling in the age group of 12-20 are always bothered about their body ‘figures’ and what they look like. They are more suggestible than others. They care more about what others think, and they’ll go through huge amounts of stress just in order to please someone / everyone. Adolescence and even early adulthood are seen as those age-groups wherein eating disorders are more prominent. But before getting into the details of it all, what are eating disorders?
Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviours surrounding weight and food issues. Eating disorders are serious emotional and physical problems that can have life-threatening consequences for females and males. (NEDA) Some of the eating disorders and their characteristics (as mentioned in the DSM-5) are mentioned below:
- Anorexia Nervosa is characterised by:
Inadequate food intake leading to weight that is clearly too low, intense fear of weight gain, obsession with weight and persistent behaviour to prevent weight gain, self-esteem overly related to body image, and an inability to appreciate the severity of the situation. (NEDA)
- Binge Eating Disorder is characterised by:
Frequent episodes of consuming very large amounts of food but without behaviours to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, a feeling of being out of control during the binge eating episodes, feelings of strong shame or guilt regarding the binge eating, indications that the binge eating is out of control, such as eating when not hungry, eating to the point of discomfort, or eating alone because of shame about the behaviour. (NEDA)
- Bulimia Nervosa is characterised by:
Frequent episodes of consuming very large amount of food followed by behaviours to prevent weight gain, such as self-induced vomiting, a feeling of being out of control during the binge-eating episodes, and self-esteem overly related to body image. (NEDA)
But although eating disorders are common all around the world, what has to be noted is that the ‘body positivity’ movement has gained some serious steam over the past decade. According to a recent report by the American Psychological Association, American women’s (and men’s) dissatisfaction with the skin they’re in began to decline in the early 2000s, following an unfortunate peak in the 1990s. (Schreiber & Hausenblas, 2016)
Body positivity simply means accepting one’s body, despite the natural flaws. Deviating from the public perception of it, body positivity isn’t just about being comfortable in your own skin when you’re a little on the heavier side; It also includes loving your body despite the various comments people pass on how you should “put some flesh on those bones” or “consider actually eating food”. A lot of my friends and family members have been prey to these sorts of comments and it’s downright hateful to talk to someone like that. A lot of people nowadays have learnt to accept plus sized bodies (and that’s great!). But at the same time, they fail to realise that when body positivity celebrates loving all body types, it actually means ALL body types.
A good thing these days is that a number of celebrities promote positive body image via various social media sites: from role models as ‘chubby’ as Melissa McCarthy, to ones as slim as Kendall Jenner. We can only hope that in the time to come, the world as we know it changes its perception about body images. The best is (hopefully) yet to come!
NEDA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2016, from www.nationaleatingdisorders.org: http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/types-symptoms-eating-disorders
Schreiber, K., & Hausenblas, H. (2016, August 11). What Does Body Positivity Actually Mean? Psychology Today .
Image Courtesy: hopestreetcentre.co.uk
[Contributed by Jeanette B. Noronha, undergraduate student of psychology during her internship]