Anorexia and Social Media

Welcome back followers!!

On a recent night out, I met a girl who was had similar friends to myself and my boyfriend. Although I had never met her before, I had heard of her and knew who she was. Anyway, we got chatting and it came up that she had been away in Cork for 9 months to deal with anorexia. This struck me really hard. Firstly, I had only met her about 10 minutes ago and she was sharing something so personal. And the fact that she was so open about it. I thought this was so brave and honest.

I got thinking about anorexia after that, and I realised I didn’t know that much about it or even anyone who had had this disorder. Or did I?

What struck me again is that you would never had suspected this girl had suffered from an eating disorder. She is beautiful, has friends, a degree, a boyfriend and looked happy. I got wondering then how many people may suffer from eating disorders that we know, and we don’t even realise?

As I looked in to anorexia I came across some startling facts. According to bodywhys.ie –

‘The Department of Health estimates that:

  • Up to 200,000 people in Ireland may be affected by eating disorders.
  • An estimated 400 new cases emerge each year, representing 80 deaths annually.’

In 2013, ‘92% of all admissions were female’ – bodywhys.ie

In 2012, according to the Child and Adolescent Health Service (CAMHS) –

  • ‘Children aged 15 years were the most likely to be attending community CAMHS, followed by the 16/17 year old age group and children in the 10 to 14 year age group.
  • Eating disorders accounted for 12% of all admissions to Irish child and adolescent units.
  • Females accounted for 85% of all admissions with eating disorders.
  • Eating disorders increased with age, accounted for 4.5% of the primary presentations of the 15 years and older age group.
  • Concerning primary presentation by gender – eating disorders/problems: including pre-school eating problems, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa: 17.4% were male and 82.6% female.’ – bodywhys.ie

I think these facts and statistics are startling.

I think what is really significant and scary is that there are children in the 10 to 14 year age group.

Children as young as 10 are being admitted for having an eating disorder.

This is just so saddening and terrifying. How do children at 10 years of age know and become anorexic to this degree? When I was 10, I don’t think I knew what anorexic or being anorexic meant.

So how are children nowadays being exposed to this? I think the answer is pretty simple.

Children are being overexposed to what is on the internet.

Every type of social media has pictures of skinny girls with ‘perfect bodies’. My last blog dealt with some aspects of ‘thinspiration’ and ‘fitspiration’. These terms, along with the pictures, come with diets and rules, which are not healthy. Young girls then follow these as if they are the Commandments.

The ‘rules’ can look like these:

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200 calories a day? This just makes me want to cry.

When I was 10, I was literally obsessed with horses. Me and my friends lived for Saturdays when we went for our lesson and then spent the rest of the day shoveling horse shit. We absolutely loved it and it was all we talked about at school. I would never have imagined sitting around the computer discussing with my friends how many calories I ate that day.

This was only 11 years ago, when Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest didn’t exist.

I was always conscious of my weight (I was a chubby kid), but I can’t imagine what I would have been like, had my 10 year old self seen the type of images and rules children and teens are now exposed to.

Social media can be good thing, but when it comes to things like this, it’s really hard to argue that it is. It’s basically brain-washing children and young teenagers in to eating disorders.

Although I know it is not the sole reason for people going through eating disorders, there are many. But I do think this over-exposure to body image and being perfect is happening at such an influential age.

It’s crazy to think what it may be like in another 10 years.

Until next time followers,

Victoria

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