I’d take away all the ridiculous media influence to look a certain way and make a law against comparing yourself to this impossible standard (totally practical 😉 ) People wonder why eating disorders/disordered eating/food rules began. I can tell you that eating disorders can sprout from many reasons including damaging family or friend influences, feelings of worthlessness and unimportance, lack of control with ones life, depression and many other factors. However, in my opinion, I believe that the media’s influence and pressure from society is one of the number one causes.
When I hear a 6-year-old tell me they’re on a diet because they want to look like someone they saw in a magazine or on TV it kills me (Yes, one of my first-grade students said this to me). It seriously hurts my heart to think that innocent minds are already feeling the pressure to look a certain way. I know, as many of you know, that models and celebrities are often airbrushed to look perfect in magazines, commercials etc., but this is what women (and even YOUNG girls) are looking to for what they ought to look like. I understand that not many people can look like Angelina Jolie (I mean, there are only few women who actually can look like that) BUT, despite knowing, I still long to look that way and am tempted to be that thin. Heck, it’s hard not to when it’s everywhere I look!!
In high school I remember being ashamed of my ‘womanly’ figure (aka large chest) and wanted so badly to be flat chested. Most would think I was crazy for wishing that, but when comparing myself to women in magazines, I just didn’t fit into that tall, thin, beautiful image. At that time, I had body image issues and wanted to change, but it didn’t become so obsessive that it took over my entire being. In college, things slowly began to drift down hill. What started as an innocent way of trying to lose a few lbs. turned into a full-blown eating disorder. Yes, I thought that if I looked a certain way, or weighed a certain amount that I would be happy. I know now that thin does NOT equal happiness (been there, tried that) but for some reason that thought still lingers in my head. There are many complicated, difficult to explain reasons as to why I developed this disorder that I will discuss when I’m ready, but I still feel that media influence plays a huge factor.
When I finally get my rational mind around what it means to be healthy (usually after an appointment with my dietician, doctor, or treatment team in Hershey) I’ll see some magazine, TV show or commercial about weight loss/how to be beautiful OR hear someone talking about what kinds of workouts blast fat etc. that makes it all go to sh!t. It’s like my once logical self that knew what it meant to be healthy sprints right out the door (pun intended). That’s when I sit for a second and think, what is it that is making you want to look that way? Do I think everyone will like me/accept me if I weigh a certain amount? I think I will feel great about myself, finally get that full-time job I’ve been looking for, and life will just be GRAND!
Not the case. I remind myself daily of Psalm 139:13-18.
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.”
I’ve got the Big Man with me, who knows all things, whose presence is everywhere, whose power is within me, and whose holiness lives in my heart. I am who I am and it’s an insult to God if I am not happy with myself (hello, he made me!!). I am working on not caring what others think of my appearance, weight and fitness level, but instead caring about what God thinks of my heart.
Would you care about appearance/weight/fitness level if you lived solo on a deserted island?