Eating disorders are a sad reality of our modern world.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were setting up the Cafe and overheard two young teenage girls, probably around 14/15, talking about ‘bambi legs’ and how to get them. We shared a confused look and went back inside. A quick Google later had us both kind of shocked. Apparently ‘bambi legs’, apart from referring to legs after amazing sex, refers to bony thin legs – apparently it’s a ‘thing’ to signify how ‘beautifully’ skinny you are. These were young girls I’m talking about, girls who haven’t finished growing and aren’t even out of puberty yet! Now I know full well that I can be old fashioned when it comes to certain things – I can’t abide fully made up 12 year olds, or young teens wearing ‘adult’ clothing, some things just shouldn’t be messed with: when you’re a kid, be a kid, don’t pretend to be 19 when you’re 11, that’s just asking for trouble.
Okay, let’s move on. After overhearing yet another conversation about ‘being fat’ today, and again, coming from young teenage girls, this time about how to be a ‘better bulimic’ – because the grammar there isn’t enough to drive you crazy – I decided I had better address these issues a little bit. So I hopped online and did some research and came across this website. This site clearly defines the most common eating disorders – eg. anorexia, bulimia – and talks about signs, symptoms and potential treatments.
I think it’s important to have a good understanding of eating disorders when you’re dieting. Not only because it’s important to have a full understanding of the things people go through to conform to a certain ‘norm’. I’d like you to have a look at this video by Cherry Dollface and think about what she’s getting at. If you’re changing your lifestyle to look more like the model on the cover of a magazine – male or female! – you might want to reassess your goals: you’re never going to look like someone else. That’s just the way it works; I know we would all love to have supermodel looks, but that’s just not possible for most of us. Don’t set a goal that you’re never going to be able to achieve: it’ll just make you miserable. Society puts enough pressure on all of us – men and women, girls and boys – to look and act a certain way without us adding to the pressure by trying to be someone we’re not. We certainly don’t want to be saying “I’m on this diet so I can look like … ”; that just sets a bad example for anyone, especially the young and impressionable teens who are already confused about who they are!
Teens are probably the most pressurised of all humanity; not only do we expect them to get some sort of sensibility and education, we also want them to grow up, not hang around with the wrong crowds, stay safe, and in some cases – we don’t want them to grow up at all! They’re busy planning not planning for their future: they’re in the now and that might mean study for some, partying for others, or both. It also means figuring out who you are, trying to work out what you’re into: do you like rock music? Classical? Do you go with fashion trends or do your own thing? Are you going to get that tattoo or not? Your friends smoke, do you? Your friends drink, will you? All of these things and more make up the hazardous environment of growing up as a teen. And then, bang! Kids get swamped with images from movies, magazines, social media, the rest of the internet telling them they’re ugly, fat or have the wrong eyebrows. All of this when you’re swamped with hormones and trying to work out how you fit in the world.
Admittedly, a lot of teens cope quite well. Others don’t and turn to things to help them buff up or slim down are things like eating disorders or protein shakes. None of which their bodies are prepared to cope with. And it’s not just teens that are at risk here, adults are just as much in danger of become victims of social pressures. The only thing I can say is that if you feel pressured and you’re suffering, remember that you’re stronger than you think and this will pass! You’re your own person and the only one you have to be is yourself. You can choose that, by the way; you can choose who you want to be. And if you can’t cope with the pressure there are elements in place to help you out: talk to your GP, or at least to someone you trust – a family member, a friend – you’re never really alone.