An artefact that explores the subject of under-represented groups within the media.

What is an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are characterised by an abnormal attitude towards food that causes someone to change their eating habits and behaviour. A person with an eating disorder may focus excessively on their weight and shape, leading them to make unhealthy choices about food with damaging results to their health.

Anorexia nervosa…

When someone tries to keep their weight as low as possible, for example by starving themselves or exercising excessively.

Bulimia…

When someone tries to control their weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives.

Binge eating…

When someone feels compelled to overeat.

(All definitions taken from http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Eating-disorders/Pages/Introduction.aspx).

With so much pressure from all aspects of life, the number of people suffering with an eating disorder is continually rising. And what are the media doing about it, if nothing but encouraging it? There are a number of reasons as to what can cause an eating disorder, such as running in the family, being under a lot of stress or the desperation to be ‘perfect’. Over a number of years, the pressure to have the perfect image has increased. The availability of a huge range of diets, weight loss pills and ways to change our appearance, whilst perfectly Photoshopped celebrities with thin physiques and clear skin appear on the front of most women’s magazines, it’s inevitable that many will strive to look this way. Of course there have been numerous efforts in order to raise awareness about how we are all perfect the size we are, there is nothing wrong with being a little curvy, but despite this we can’t seem to shrug off that perfect appearance. American author Lionel Shriver says “we all have eating disorders now” as we are all suffering from the pressure to look good. Disturbingly true, she also said “we are grotesquely judgmental not only of other people but of ourselves over diet and weight. It has become wildly neurotic on an individual and social level.” However for some, weight loss becomes a lot more than a regular gym trip and healthy eating plan. By October 2012, the number of hospital admissions due to eating disorders had risen by 16% over the past year. It is also known that 1 in 10 girls teenage girls are suffering with an eating disorder. It may seem well raising awareness and educating the public with statistics about eating disorders through various news articles, but essentially not enough is being done with regards to the media, therefore this is why I feel that people with eating disorders are under-represented. A very close friend of mine has been in battle with herself for a number of years, admitted to hospital suffering with both anorexia nervosa and bulimia. As a friend, there is nothing more important than being by her side but essentially with everyone it comes to a point where someone with an eating disorder needs more help than just words of advice. I have seen her go through some of her biggest struggles, yet I have never known a stronger person. With the help of professionals and support from her family and friends she is making a slow but steady recovery. Worst of all, she feels she isn’t worthy of the help she is getting and she could not be more wrong. Even being one of her closest friends, I was unaware at first how she was suffering with anorexia, hiding herself away and wearing baggy clothes, whilst putting on a pretty good face to fool everyone thinking nothing was wrong. It’s important that everyone is aware of the first signs of eating disorders, in order to get people help. Even through everything she is going through, she makes sure she is there for others. She uses a blog to express how she is feeling, and makes herself available to talk to others who are going through a similar situation. Seeing her make a full recovery is one of the most important things to me and I will support her no matter what – she is the most beautiful and friendly person I have ever met. Knowing her story and what she is going through made it clear to me how people suffering with eating disorders need just as much help and support as anyone else, as soon as they can. What they go through should be more publicised by the media as it is more severe than meets the eye – the media should be doing more to discourage this perfect image and start raising awareness. Beat – beating eating disorders is a brilliant charity who provides online support and groups to help people suffering with such illnesses, making such a huge difference to a number of people’s lives. Charities like Beat should be more widely represented in the media also, so people are aware of the help available and hopefully one day we can bring down the number of people suffering with eating disorders.

Beat’s page can be viewed by clicking here.

Sources

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Eating-disorders/Pages/Introduction.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_disorder

http://www.mind.org.uk

http://www.b-eat.co.uk

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10080674/Hay-Festival-2013-Lionel-Shriver-We-all-have-eating-disorders-now.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2328072/Anorexia-One-teenage-girls-eating-disorder-boys-young-risk.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/as-eating-disorders-are-on-the-rise-its-important-to-remember-that-theres-more-to-it-than-anorexia-8207526.html

http://www.raderprograms.com/causes-statistics/media-eating-disorders.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8528443.stm

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/as-eating-disorders-are-on-the-rise-its-important-to-remember-that-theres-more-to-it-than-anorexia-8207526.html

~ by victoriasimkissphotography on May 25, 2013.

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