DAA Daily

Down Society’s Slippery Slope

By: Yasma Baalbaki, Opinion Section Editor, and Yasmine Jarmakani, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint

Anorexia is an eating disorder catalyzed by an obsessive fear of weight gain leading to excessive control in one’s food intake and physical activity. According to Mirasol, “The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15-24 years old. Without treatment, up to 20% of people with serious eating disorders die. With treatment, the mortality rate falls to 2-3%.”

Honestly, anorexia is much more complicated than that. Anorexia is like a ghost attached to people, following and dictating their every move. People with anorexia usually have very low self-esteem and base all their self-worth and identity on their body, weight and shape. Anorexia is also like a shade of glasses, making people see the world in a biased view. Anorexia is typically found in teen girls. In fact, “2.7% of teens in the U.S. between 13 and 18 years old have an eating disorder” Polaris Teen Center mentioned. 

Anorexia affects people in all spheres of their lives. One’s body, weight and shape shouldn’t occupy much of what their self-worth is based on. People with anorexia usually base all their identity on their body not focusing on expanding different areas of their lives. If we consider a pie shaped model, people with anorexia have more than half of their pie occupied by their body, weight and shape. Dr.Carine El Khazen, clinical psychologist, stated that: “one mustn’t put all their eggs in one basket”. By that she means that we shouldn’t transfer all our energy into one area in our lives because if this area fails, we will subsequently be left with nothing. 

Anorexia is developed due to insecurities not only related to our physical appearance. Dr.Carine El Khazen, clinical psychologist, stated: “anorexia is a coping mechanism”. What is meant by this statement is that anorexia creeps up as a friend when we are down. It acts as a reliever, providing us with short term comfort using techniques such as food restriction, body checking, and excessive exercise. However, these methodologies increase our anxiety in the long run. At the end of the day, our mindset will not change and the purpose of the techniques become counterproductive. This is because anorexia is like a snowball, growing with every urge we surrender to. When we respond to our self-critical thoughts using a fight or flight approach, anorexia is fed and takes control. 

People with a recurring anorexic mindset tend to restrict their food intake through counting calories, only eating what society calls “healthy food”, decreasing portions, refraining from social events around food, having food obsessions, having anxiety around food … In addition to that, some people with anorexia over-exercise as a way of earning their food, compensating for what they ate and as a way of achieving what society calls an “ideal body”. Some causes for these particular actions include body checking and scrutiny using a mirror, body avoidance and comparison. Those anorexia driven actions increase one’s body dysmorphia as well. 

Social media filtered pictures and algorithms induce teens’ predisposition to comparison. There are two types of comparison biases: Subject bias and assessment bias. Subject bias is when we look at a person with what we perceive as an ideal body and assume that the whole world is like that and we are the ugliest ones out there. But in fact, these people make up a tiny percentage of the population. Assessment bias is when we scrutinize one part of someone else’s body and compare it with a particular insecurity of ours. We do not realize that a “perfect” body part isn’t what shapes a person and makes them successful. 

Furthermore, our society is so brainwashed by diet trends and diet culture. We tend to believe the things we see online and try to assimilate to society. What we don’t realize is the financial and marketing aspect of those trends. In fact, “Diet and weight loss have grown to be a $71 billion industry, yet according to studies— 95% of diets fail” (CNBC). Hala Abu Taha, clinical dietitian specialized in eating disorders stated that: “Everything in moderation is healthy”. Being healthy means having a balanced diet, a good relationship with food, good mental health as well as physical health. “Being healthy means adding to our lives and not taking away from it”. 

Moreover, there is a study that was made on what makes people happy. This theory of well being is called PERMA, it was developed by Dr. Martin Seligman. Each of the letters represent one component of a person’s happiness. P is for positive emotion, E is for engagement, R is for positive relationships, M is for meaning and A is for accomplishments and achievements. If you haven’t already noticed, I would like to highlight the fact that having a “perfect body” doesn’t increase one’s happiness, self-confidence or well-being. 

We all come in different shapes and sizes because we inherit our body types from our genes. Unfortunately, Societys’ beauty standards are unrealistic and unhealthy. No matter what our body shape is, society will always tell us we are not enough. When you are 12, you want a smaller tummy, less body hair, or thinner thighs. When you are 16, you want a smaller waist, a bigger bum or a smaller nose. When you are 26, you want tighter skin, your teenage body back, and to be less wobbly. When you are 30, you realize how cute you were at 26. When you’re 40, you ask yourself why you ever thought you weren’t beautiful at 30. When you’re 50 you just want your joint pain to go away. And when you’re 80, you regret every time you ever looked at your body with dislike. Life is short, we must not waste our time on such insignificant problems. As we grow old, we aren’t going to think about how “skinny” or “toned” we were, the memories we create are what we will hold in our hearts forever.

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