Last week, a young woman died after taking Ecstasy (MDMA). Her death from taking street drugs is a sad thing in itself, and even more troubling for me was the reason her friends gave for her using the drug: weight loss. If you have a look at the news report you’ll see why I find this troubling; to my eyes, she was already very thin.
This is an extreme case, but by no means an isolated case of a woman taking unreasonable risks to alter her appearance. Cosmetic surgery has been rising, the diet industry is still booming, and the fashion industry continues profiting from women being at war with their bodies. Body Dysmorphic Disorder, which induces compulsive and addiction-like behaviours, is becoming more commonly diagnosed.
It’s been reported that nearly half of girls aged 3 to 6 worry about being “fat”, and about one in every six girls under 12 regularly wear makeup. Boys are affected by body image issues too. If our children are already neurotic about their bodies, I wonder how they’ll fare in their teen years and adulthood.
Through the decades, the portrayed ideals have become more and more impossible to achieve and maintain for the average person. Thankfully, some positive messages in popular music, on television, on the runway, and in porn are progress toward greater acceptance of diversity, but (in my opinion) for the moment they subtly perpetuate the underlying problem, i.e. the judgments so many people make based on external appearance.
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